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Dental Bonding – Tips and Comparisons Discussed

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Has your Dentist ever suggested that you need to have a procedure called dental bonding? If so, what is dental bonding?

Dental bonding is a cosmetic procedure that is often used instead of porcelain veneers.

It is an alternative option and is a “direct” option to laboratory-generated porcelain restorations– Having bonding is immediate and can be completed in the dental chair with immediate results.

The material used is called Composite resin which is a type of plastic which is matched to the colour of your existing teeth.

The composite resin is bonded (glued) and moulded by the dentist’s own hand in the shape of your tooth.

It is bonded to the outer layer or surface of your teeth, restoring damage, such as chips, fractures, cracks, discolouration or disarrangement.

The material, which resembles your real tooth enamel, can be shaped to look like or to match your existing teeth.

This post is a little longer than usual, so below there is a Table of Contents – you can use this to skip straight ahead to any section you wish.

We suggest that you do read this all the way from beginning to end to ensure that all the information necessary is gained so that you can make an informed decision on the right procedure for you.

Dental Bonding for Chipped Teeth

Simply put, yes. Dental bonding can be used to mend one or more chipped teeth.

In fact, one of the most common procedures that dental bonding is used for is on chipped teeth that are noticeable (i.e., your front teeth).

Not only that, but it is thought to be one of the easiest, and most affordable options.

Bonding can be used to repair a small chip in a tooth in one single visit to your Dentist.

The procedure will go as follows:

  • Your tooth will be prepared, which involves the Dentist using a colour guide to best match the resin to the shade of the chipped tooth
  • They then select a composite resin colour established from the above
  • Your dentist will softly scrape the surface of your tooth, making it coarse
  • Putting a conditioning liquid or gel on the tooth (making a stronger bond between the tooth and the resin)

A dentist will then apply, shape, and curve the resin until they are satisfied with its’ shape and appearance.

A UV (ultraviolet) light or laser will then be used to cure the resin – that is, hardening it until it becomes solid.

Your Dentist will then again give the resin a final shape, and lastly a trim and a polish.

The resin that has been used for bonding the chip will be as close to invisible as possible – the aim is to blend in with your natural smile.

As you may have noticed, a local anesthetic was not used – this is not always necessary when performing a bonding procedure.

Are There Any Side-Effects with Dental Bonding?

Dental bonding has a few potential side-effects.

Whilst these are rare, any dental procedure could cause a reaction in a patient:

Tooth Decay

Before the Dentist places the composite resin on your teeth, they must clean up any infection, decay, or debris, and disinfect the tooth.

This is as, if the tooth is still decayed after the composite resin has been applied, it will keep destroying the natural tooth.

So all decay must be removed as only the sound tooth structure can bond a filling.  So with deep cavities, the decay may be close to the nerve of the tooth.

Since the proximity of decay to the nerve bacteria may have travelled and invaded the live nerve.

If the nerve has been affected then the nerve may degenerate.  If the tooth has been chipped then a knock may have been sustained by the tooth.

Any trauma or knock may cause the nerve to be affected and the nerve may die in due time.

Then, after the bonding procedure and in a given time, if the nerve has been affected or if the restoration (bonding) is too close to the nerve.

If the nerve is affected then the tooth will need either a root canal treatment or even to be extracted.

It is imperative that the tooth is cleaned prior to bonding.

Allergic Reaction

Whilst uncommon, it is possible for anybody to have an allergic reaction to the:

  • Conditioning liquid or gel
  • Composite resin
  • Tools that are used by your Dentist when they are performing a dental bonding procedure
  • Gloves (latex allergy)

The following side-effects are more common.

Weakened Bonding Material

Without a doubt, the composite resin that is used for bonding will become worn down over time.

This side-effect, unfortunately, is inescapable – it is similar to what happens to your natural tooth enamel, but more so as the bonding material is softer and weaker than your tooth enamel.

Meaning, they may slowly erode. Or, in extreme cases, the bonding material may chip or crack.

Discoloured Bonding Material

The composite resin that is used for bonding is not fully stained resistant.

So, it can become discoloured from stains.

Stains which affect the bonding are mainly coffee, tea, red wine, turmeric or strong coloured foods.

Lack of adequate brushing may also cause staining of the bonding.

Furthermore, the resin will have a poor response to a teeth whitening procedure of any kind.

The dentist may be able to polish the bonding when you attend your routine cleaning appointment and this could help to keep the bonding more to the original colour.

However, caring for your teeth correctly, diet and maintaining your oral care and proper dental hygiene can help to prevent these side-effects.

See the below sub-heading for Aftercare instructions to follow.

It will also advise you on what to do if you do experience discolouration.

Dental Bonding Discolouration – What to Do

Aftercare instructions that you should follow to make sure your bonding lasts as long as possible include:

  • Brushing your teeth and tongue at least twice daily
  • Using a gentle, non-abrasive toothpaste, so you don’t scratch the surface of your teeth (doing so will welcome stains)
  • Having a great toothbrush, that you replace when it is or worn or misshaped
  • Flossing regularly and properly attending your regular dental check-ups
  • Drinking water often and after you eat
  • Avoiding foods and drinks that will stain your teeth

Following foods should be avoided to prevent staining:

  • Tea
  • Coffee
  • Soft drinks
  • Sports drinks
  • Juices
  • Wine (both red and white)
  • All sauces that are dark in colour
  • Berries
  • Lollies with artificial colours

To sum it up, basically, any food or drink that is dark or bright in colour.

If you simply cannot resist these drinks, then drink them with a straw.

This will keep the colour from directly touching your bonding.

Also, abstain from eating foods that will wear away or chip your composite resin, such as hard, crispy foods (such as lollies, pretzels, or beef jerky) and not to forget any acidic foods.

Also avoiding other products that stain your teeth – mainly, tobacco products (i.e., cigarettes).

Refraining from habits that will erode your composite resin and tooth enamel, such as, biting your fingernails, grinding your teeth, chewing on pens, pencils, or other hard items, such as ice.

Opening packets of foodstuff, cutting fishing lines, hairpins or pens can cause damage to your teeth.

So, if you do not follow these aftercare instructions (and any others that your Dentist may provide you with), after time your bonding will likely become stained and discoloured.

For example, if you drink a lot of coffee, the bonding may turn more yellow.

Still, even if you do follow these instructions perfectly, within some time, your bonding material may become discoloured.

Placing bonding is technique sensitive. So if the bonding procedure was not bonding in place or the bonding was inadequate you may experience a gap between the restoration and the tooth.

If the decay was not removed entirely you may experience decay under the bonding.  So if there is a colour change around the bonding material it is advisable to have the bonding checked regularly.

As mentioned, a whitening procedure will not work on a bonding material. Rather, you will need to return to a Dentist.

They will be able to suggest all options that are available to you, that may improve the appearance of your aging bonding procedure.

These options come in the form of new material, with which you can replace your discoloured bonding.

The type of bonding material/s that are available for you to use will depend on the extent of your staining.

Some cases can be fixed with ease. Other cases may need more effort.

Below is a list of new materials that can replace your discoloured bonding, and when they can be used.

New Bonding and Removal of Old

It is possible to remove your old bonded material.

If you are interested in knowing more about this, then refer to the sub-heading Dental Bonding Removal – Is it Easy to Reverse? where I will elaborate further on this topic.

But once you have done so, you can replace the old bonding material with new bonding material that matches the colour of your natural teeth.

Porcelain Veneers

In many cases, veneers can be used to replace your old dental bonding.

They are also a stylish, natural-looking option – one that is very popular in cosmetic dentistry as it is aesthetically appealing.

Please see the sub-heading “Dental Bonding vs. Veneers” for the pros and cons of each.

Crowns

If the tooth underneath the bonding has degraded with time and there is not much tooth structure to hold a bonding restoration or a veneer then a crown may be suggested as an option.

Be able to bear any more bonding or veneers.  There must be enough tooth to support bonding or veneer procedures.

Or, if the discolouration and stains are too dark, bonding or veneers simply may not cover them.

If the tooth underneath has had a root canal and in time the tooth has discoloured then the bonding may be transparent the dark colour of the tooth is seen through the bonding of the veneer.

Thankfully, you can still get a Dentist to place a crown over the top of your tooth, restoring both the way it looks and functions.

Dental Bonding for Tooth Gaps – Does it Work?

The short answer to this question is – yes.

For the longer answer, let’s talk about the traditional method, which is braces.

Although braces are an effective method of fixing crooked teeth that have gaps between them, they are not always necessary.

If the gap is not too large, another effective, and perhaps an even quicker method to fix a gap between your teeth is through bonding.

However, it also depends on where the gap is situated in your mouth.

If it is sitting between your two front teeth, which are in full view, bonding may be possible depending on the size and position of the bite of the lower teeth in relation to the position of the bonding.

But if the gap is further towards the back of your mouth, bonding is a practical solution.

Bonding can be done in just one visit to your Dentist.

This is in comparison to braces, which generally will take longer and of course, the consideration of the financial aspect has to be considered.

Dental Bonding Home Kits – Can You DIY?

DIY Dental Bonding Home Kits are available as something that you can purchase, but they are not something that I recommend.

Dentists study for years at university to get this procedure correct, and do so effectively.

Their study includes getting the colour the right shade to match your natural teeth – which is quite difficult.

If you have a take-home kit trying to match the shade, getting the tooth dry and isolated and applying the material is technique sensitive.

If steps are not followed then your procedure could cause more damage than advantages.

Getting the shape they design correct to match your natural smile – which also takes time and skill.

Ensuring that you are an appropriate recipient for bonding. For example, if the area is too large, or crack too big bonding may not be your best option.

A Dentist will also have the right tools and materials, such as a UV light to harden the resin, whereas a DIY kit will not.

Is Dental Bonding Covered by Insurance?

This is a tricky question to answer all at once, as insurance coverage varies greatly from company to company.

But to narrow it down, first, you must under your Private Health Insurance policy “Extras”, be covered for Major Dental and have survived that individual obligatory waiting period.

But still, then, most insurance companies will not cover dental bonding, as they consider it to be a ‘cosmetic’ procedure, if you only have basic dental cover.

So, you can either check your insurance coverage or call your insurance company, to see if they did provide cover for cosmetic dentistry.

If you read your insurance coverage, be sure that you read all the fine print meticulously as if the answer is no, then your bonding procedure/s must be classified as necessary dental work for you to be able to claim any benefits.

For example, if you get bonding for a chipped tooth, the insurance company may class this as ‘cosmetic’ dental work, as they believe that the new tooth was created to perfectly match all your other teeth.

As such, they will say that this work was ‘inessential’, and so they may not cover you for it.

So then, how do you use your insurance to cover you for dental bonding?

Your safest option is to visit your Dentist and have them do an oral examination, diagnosing you and your case.

Then you will get a quote, and your recommended plan of treatment, including:

  • The treatment/s you need (meaning, these can now be considered as ‘essential’)
  • Their cost
  • Approximately how much your insurance will cover
  • When you visit the dentist ensure that all options of your treatment are given. Having all the information from your dentist leads you to make the best choice which suits your needs and your financial considerations

By doing so, you will know the gap fee (that is, the percentage of the treatment) that your insurance will not cover.

That is the amount that is left over – which is the amount that you will have to pay.

A typical gap fee for all Major Dental procedures is up to 50% – so you will have to pay the rest to cover your rebate and fee gap.

Dental Bonding Lifespan – How Long Will It Last?

A Dentist will generally not be able to predict the lifespan of your bonding or any dental procedure as many aspects and factors have to be considered.

The reasons are that restorations are subject to age of the patient, amount of tooth left, history of the tooth and the damage sustained by the teeth, a number of teeth left to take the load of the bite, biting and contact from opposing teeth.

lifestyle, grinding habits, diet and sports activities and other physical activities.  Location of the bonding is also crucial

The first consideration if the location of the bonding on the tooth and also the position of the tooth in the mouth.

The health and strength of the tooth on which it was applied – as this may affect its longevity, if the tooth is vital or has had the nerve removed (root canal treated tooth)

Where it is applied.  If it is in direct contact of the opposing teeth.

Such as, if the bonding put around the very edge of your tooth, the force used when you bite certain foods will affect it more.

For example, many people with bonding on their front teeth do not bite directly down into hard foods, as this can weaken it.  If your bonding is in direct contact with your own tooth.  Your tooth will be stronger than the bonding and will break or weaken the bonded restoration.

Which brings us onto our next point. How well you take care of your oral hygiene determines if the bonding begins to lose its’ original polish or stain and chip around the edges.

This includes the details that we mentioned in the sub-heading “Dental Bonding Discolouration – What to Do”, such as biting your fingernails, eating or avoiding certain foods, and grinding your teeth.

The final elements that will affect the lifetime of your bonding are now all up to the Dentist who performs the treatment, including what type of composite material they use, and how much.

But typically, a replacement for bonded teeth should be planned for and the factors mentioned above considered.

If you cannot change your biting habits and bite directly onto the bonding it is bound to break.

Learning to avoid direct contact on the bonding will keep your restoration longer.  Repeated biting and straining on the composite is bound to break it.

Dental Bonding for Molars – Any Difference to the Front Teeth?

Dental bonding is, in the majority of cases, used on the front teeth.

There are a few reasons for this, such as some people are more prone to caring about the way these teeth look, as they are the most visible.

As such, it has an impact on their emotions, their attitude, and their behaviour.

Meaning, they only more likely to undergo the procedure, and Dentists will use bonding.

Molars often require the added structural support that a crown will provide.

However, this is not to say that bonding cannot be used on the back teeth.

Depending upon the location, and the degree of any tooth decay, some dental bonding procedures can be performed on your molars.

For example, the composite resin can be used as a filling on your back teeth.

This is again the more affordable option and is less noticeable than some other materials, such as Amalgam.

However, composites were designed to be used in small cavities and in areas where the force is minimal.

With time the composite resins have been fortified and have been developed to take the load of the back teeth.

But all bonding procedures will need to be replaced and monitored as time and wear can cause underlying problems of these restorations.

Dental Bonding vs. Veneers

Bonding is a procedure that is often used instead of dental porcelain veneers. So, let’s go over the pros and cons of each.

Dental Bonding or Composite Veneers Advantages

Let’s look at some of the advantages of bonding.

1. Price

Bonding is one of the least expensive ‘cosmetic’ dental treatments.

The cost of dental bonding does vary depending on a few factors.

This includes where it is placed, your Dentist, the difficulty and thus the length of the procedure.

So, it pays to ‘shop around’ and compare the prices at a few different dental clinics.

2. Time

Bonding can be completed in just one appointment with your Dentist.

This visit will only take somewhere from thirty minutes to one hour.

Veneers take more time.

3. Less Invasive

Minimal tooth preparation is needed for dental bonding.

Unlike the procedure for veneers, with dental bonding, the tooth does not need to be numbed with anesthetics unless decay has to be removed prior.

Also in some cases, you may not have to remove any tooth structure or

Enamel if esthetics permit.

As a result, many people often get several teeth bonded at one brief appointment.

4. Few Side-Effects

Probably one of the best benefits of dental bonding is that its side-effects are few and far between.

There have been cases where patients have experienced a slight amount of tooth discomfort for a few days after the treatment.

However, over-the-counter pain medication can help to relieve this discomfort.

Post veneers, patients are known to feel quite a bit more uncomfortable.

5. Replacement is Easy

If the bonding material becomes discoloured, it can easily be replaced – even with veneers.

The benefits of dental bonding can be summed as:

  • Its’ simplicity
  • The few side-effects, especially that of minimal pain
  • The fact that it can be completed in a short time

Makes it ideal for young adults, who are not quite ready for the procedure that is veneers.

Disadvantages of Dental Bonding

There are 3 main disadvantages of dental bonding. Let’s go through them below.

1. Discolouration

Unfortunately, the resin used for bonding will stain given time.

Porcelain Veneers are inert and resistant to stains.

2. Longevity

The composite resin that is used for dental bonding is roughly 30% the strength of your natural tooth.

Given that, it will weaken and fail with time. You will need to replace the bonding depending on your circumstances and lifestyle.

It will also require maintenance during its’ lifetime.

Porcelain Veneers are stronger,  more durable, so typically last longer.

3. It Will Not Always Work

Dental bonding is not for everyone.

If your tooth is severely damaged or decayed, you may need a Porcelain veneer or crown instead.

Your Dentist will let you know if you are a suitable candidate for bonding or not.

Dental Veneer Advantages

Now let us touch on Dental Veneers so you can get the full picture and why these are a good option to consider.

1. Durability

Though thin, veneers are quite strong and tough, which means that they are less likely to break.

As such, they are considered to be a “more permanent” solution.

So, if you grind your teeth or play sports, veneers may be a better choice.

2. Lifespan

Veneers can be made from many different materials, such as  porcelain, or zirconia or E-max

Some are stronger than others, such as porcelain.

Though it varies in its’ strength, porcelain is generally 90% of the strength of your natural teeth.

So, veneers made from porcelain will live a long life if you take care of them.

3. Stain Resistant

Any dark foods or drinks, such as coffee or tea, very rarely tend to stain veneers.

4. A Replacement Option

At times, veneers can be used as a replacement material for when your bonding becomes discoloured.

Disadvantages of Veneers

There are some considerations when opting for veneers. I’ll go through some of their disadvantages below.

1. Time

Dental veneers will require more than one visit to the Dentist.

First, you will have to get an impression of your teeth taken.

This is then sent to a laboratory, where the veneers will typically take between one – three weeks to make.

2. Pain

There is more pain associated with veneers. Since teeth are prepared to accept the veneer and have no rough protruding edges.

The amount of tooth structure needing to be removed will depend on the discomfort.

Painkillers can help, but ensure that you speak with your Dentist before taking any.

3. Your Gums Must be Healthy

To ensure your veneers will be a success, your Dentist will check the health of your gums.

Healthy gums are more likely to accept veneers, so your Dentist will be checking to see if you’re a suitable candidate.

4. Dietary Changes

The changes you have to make to your diet may be harder and more long-term.

You will have to try and avoid sugar – this includes sugary drinks, cakes, and takeaway food.

You will also have to drink a lot of water, to keep your mouth clean, well-hydrated and healthy.

5. Cost

They can be expensive – at least, more expensive than dental bonding.

However, you will find that there is an option to suit almost any budget.

Composite is the cheapest, at $200 to $500 each.

Porcelain is more costly, ranging from $800 to $2,500 each.

Zirconia can start from $1000 and range up in price from there.

Are you still unsure? “Dental Veneers – The Ultimate Guide”, will teach you all there is to know about veneers.

Dental Bonding Removal – Is It Easy to Reverse?

Yes, dental bonding can be removed quite easily and safely.

Unlike many other cosmetic treatments, such as laboratory veneers, bonding is an additive treatment and reversible.

This means that when you remove the bonding, none of your natural enamel needs to be removed.

The process goes as follows:

  • A type of sandpaper that has been specially designed for this purpose is placed on a small disc that rotates swiftly
  • This is the tool that your Dentist will use to remove all of the bonding material from your teeth

And that is it – all the effects of your initial bonding procedure have been reversed.

If you are wondering what your teeth will look like after the dental bonding has been removed, there is no need for concern.

Mostly, they will look just like they did before you had the bonding put on.

The only difference will be that they may not be quite as be shiny or bright as they were.

This is because the enamel surface of your tooth was scratched and a liquid or gel applied before the bonding was performed.

Now, if you are wondering why you may want to remove bonding, below I have listed several reasons.

Before Restoring a Tooth

As mentioned under the sub-heading “Dental Bonding Discolouration”, it is common for the bonding material to stain.

When it does, your dentist will likely suggest replacing it with another material.

Before doing so, however, it may be best to remove the initial bonding entirely.

You can also do the same thing if your bonding has cracked or chipped – remove it and then add more material.

If You Are Not Happy with Your Outcome

This is not very common, but it is possible.

Or, for some other reason, such as the colour, shape or protrusion, you may not be happy with the result of your bonding procedure.

If this does occur, it is generally a good idea to have the bonding material removed.

Then, you can find a different Dentist, and talk about your different options.

You can discuss having either another bonding treatment or perhaps laboratory veneers.

In Preparation for Veneers

Let’s say you had dental bonding done as a temporary solution, whilst waiting to be ready for porcelain veneers.

The shape, colour and position of your teeth can be established.

Also, you will have time to get used to the new style of teeth so that when you are ready to commit both financial and tooth preparation you can see and prepare yourself for the more permanent procedure of laboratory styled veneers.

So, if you are now ready to have your veneers procedure performed, first you will need all the bonding material to be removed

Conclusion

Dental bonding is a safe, and affordable treatment.

It can be used to fix many different flaws with your teeth, including:

The material used looks just like your real tooth enamel so can be made to look exactly like your totally natural smile.

You can also have all your teeth done and choose a new shade/colour which is usually whiter.  This will give you a chance to try it out.

It has some limitations, such as if your teeth are seriously damaged or decayed.

So, be sure that you check with your Dentist about what is the best option for you.

To see how a Dentist performs a bonding procedure, you can watch this video.

Would you consider dental bonding our veneers?

Dr Veronica Roller

By Dr Veronica Roller

Created at December 08, 2020, Updated at December 08, 2020

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