For those of us with dental work who like to talk, laugh or smile, a silver tooth filling shows the world where we could have taken better care of our teeth. But what if there was a way to hide the fact that you even had any cavities in the first place?
Composite resin is a filling material designed for aesthetic dental restorations. Formulated to resemble the color of your natural tooth, composite resin is often used for filling dental cavities or for dental bonding front teeth.
Composite resin consists of glass or quartz filler added to a resin medium, which produces a tooth-colored filling. The invention of composite resin offers a substitute to the amalgam dental fillings we’ve grown so accustomed to. This plastic and glass mixture contains no metal and can be shaped to resemble a real tooth. Onlookers usually can’t tell that a tooth has even been filled!
When you think of a beautiful smile, you probably think of bright, white, straight teeth. If your smile doesn’t fit this description today, that doesn’t mean it never will. In fact, with dental bonding, you have one of the easiest, fastest and most affordable cosmetic dental treatments available to repair stained, cracked or chipped teeth.
During a dental bonding procedure, a cosmetic dentist applies a tooth-colored resin to your tooth and then uses a special light to harden or “bond” the material to the tooth. It may seem simple, but the ability to bond restorative materials to enamel has, in fact, revolutionized your dentist’s ability to prevent and prepare cavities, as well as improve the overall appearance of your smile.
Dental bonding is commonly used to:
- Restore decayed, cracked and chipped teeth
- Improve the appearance of stained teeth
- Close spaces between gapped teeth
- Change the shape of teeth
Bonding vs. Dental Crowns and Veneers
Dental bonding, dental crowns and veneers are all cosmetic dentistry procedures that can boost your smile from average to brilliant. Bonding, however, is a less expensive, less complicated alternative to a dental crown or dental veneers.
Some dentists feel that dental bonding is best suited for:
- Small cosmetic changes
- Temporary corrections of cosmetic defects
- Teeth with little bite pressure (especially front teeth)
Another benefit of dental bonding is the time it can save you. Unlike veneers and dental crowns, which are custom-made in an off-site laboratory and require multiple visits to complete, a dental bonding procedure is performed in your dentist’s office and generally takes just one visit!
Dental bonding does have limitations, however. While the material used in dental bonding is somewhat stain-resistant, dental crowns have proven to resist stains better. Bonded teeth are also more vulnerable to chipping and breaking than dental crowns, dental veneers or dental fillings, so you should refrain from chewing on ice, pencils and your fingernails.
The Dental Bonding Procedure
The dental bonding process is a simple procedure that takes a dentist about 30 to 60 minutes per tooth to complete. The process is usually painless and is often performed without local anesthesia or sedation dentistry, unless the bonding is being used for a tooth filling.
First, your dentist prepares the tooth for dental bonding. Your dentist uses a shade guide to select a composite resin that closely matches the natural color of your teeth. Your tooth will be roughened up a bit and then a conditioning material is applied to help the resin better adhere to the tooth.
Finally, your dentist uses an ultraviolet light to harden the resin. After the resin has hardened, the dentist may trim and shape the tooth as needed. The final touch is a little polishing to make sure the sheen of your bonded tooth looks just like the rest of your natural teeth.
How to Care for Bonded Teeth
Contrary to popular belief, there are no tricks to caring for your teeth — bonded or not. Good oral hygiene is all it takes. That means brushing at least twice a day, flossing at least once a day, maintaining a nutritious diet and visiting your dentist regularly.
Think you’re a candidate for dental bonding? Only a dentist can give you the right answer