Dental bonding is one of the easiest, least expensive cosmetic dentistry procedures in the dentist’s arsenal. Your dentist can shape and polish the composite resin used in bonding to seamlessly match your adjacent teeth. Most often, a dentist uses bonding for cosmetic purposes to improve the look of a discolored or damaged tooth. Bonding can also be used to close gaps between teeth, make teeth appear longer or change their overall shape and color. Sometimes we use bonding as a cosmetic replacement for an amalgam (silver) filling or to protect the exposed or abraded portion of a tooth’s root, such as when gums recede. Tooth preparation is usually not required for cosmetic bonding, and anesthesia is typically unnecessary unless we use bonding to fill a cavity or the teeth are very sensitive to cold.
Your dentist uses a dental shade guide to choose the composite resin color that matches your tooth color most closely. Once your dentist has chosen the color, he or she will slightly abrade, or etch, the surface of the tooth to roughen it. The tooth will be coated lightly with a conditioning liquid, which helps the bonding material adhere. After the tooth is cleaned and prepped, your dentist will apply the tooth-colored, putty-like resin. He or she sculpts the resin until it reaches the proper shape, then hardens the material with a blue light.
Once the bonding material hardens, your dentist will trim and shape it, then polish it until it matches the luster and sheen of the remaining tooth surface. It usually takes 30 to 60 minutes to complete a cosmetic bonding procedure. If you need more than one tooth bonded, you may need to schedule more time.
Coffee, tea, cola drinks, certain foods and cigarette or cigar smoke can stain the bonding. To prevent or minimize stains you should always brush your teeth after meals and have a dental hygienist clean them on a regular basis.