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Dental bonding is the most affordable restorative treatment option for patients with chipped, cracked, or damaged teeth. During a direct bonding procedure, a special adhesive and high-intensity curing light are used with tooth-colored composite resins. A dentist bonds the materials to the teeth and fills any imperfections. An indirect bonding procedure involves an additional laboratory step.
Bonding is one of the most popular restorative treatment options among adults because it is painless and completed within one to two office visits. Bonds are also non-invasive, which means almost all patients qualify for treatment, even children with chipped or damaged teeth.
In a survey conducted by the American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry (AACD), bonding was the second most common dental procedure patients received in 2013 (64 percent). Participants could select as many procedures as applicable:
Direct dental bonding lasts up to 8 years depending on a patient’s bite and their eating and chewing habits.
Advantages of Bonding: Porcelain veneers fix chipped, cracked, discolored, or damaged teeth. Although, porcelain veneers aren’t the best option for every patient because they are more expensive and take longer to apply than dental bonds. Bonding requires one office visit and is cost-effective, while veneers take two or more appointments. Lastly, bonds are reversible, while porcelain veneers are permanent.
Disadvantages of Bonding: It is crucial to have an experienced restorative dentist apply a bond. This is because the material is particularly difficult to match to your exact tooth color. In addition, bonds stain easier, require more upkeep, and are less natural-looking than veneers.
Other treatment options, such as crowns and porcelain veneers, are more expensive and invasive than bonding treatment. Patients with just a few gaps in between their teeth can skip clear aligners or braces and undergo bonding treatment instead. Although, if teeth misalignment is severe, most dentists recommend braces or aligners.
Bonding is typically used on patients who have minor dental issues. Patients can opt for bonding treatment instead to treat a variety of different issues, including:
There are two main types of dental bonding treatment (indirect and direct) that are used by restorative dentists. Both procedures incorporate composite resin. The material bonds to the teeth using a special adhesive (unfilled resin).
Direct and indirect restorations both use composite resin, which is the most common type of dental bonding material. It is a soft, putty-like plastic that is the color of a tooth. Composite resin is extremely flexible and easily molds around tooth cracks, stains, and chips. Dentists also use the material to fill cavities.
Direct is the most common type of bonding because it fixes chipped or decayed teeth quickly. This type of restoration restores the shape, function, look, and color of a patient’s natural teeth.
This procedure consists of placing tooth-colored restorations, also called fillings, on a tooth or multiple teeth. The bonding material is a putty-like composite resin that matches the color of a patient’s teeth. The composite material is molded onto the teeth, cured with a high-intensity light, and then smoothed and polished by a restorative dentist. The procedure only takes 30 to 60 minutes.
This treatment is mainly cosmetic. Composite veneer bonding changes the shape, color, and size of teeth. They can also close gaps and change the length of a patient’s teeth. Composite veneers can last up to eight years with proper care.
Indirect bonding restores broken or decayed teeth. The procedure takes two dentist visits. First, a dentist takes a mold of the affected tooth. Then a dentist sends the mold to a dental laboratory where they fabricate a filling or dental inlay. Indirect inlays and fillings are made of composite resin. They are extremely strong and durable because lab technicians use high heat to cure the restorations. During the second appointment, a dentist bonds the filling or inlay to the patient’s tooth.
Since bonding is more susceptible to chips and stains than other restorative procedures, additional oral care techniques are necessary:
The cost of dental bonding depends on the severity of the condition and how many teeth need treatment. Many standard dental insurance plans cover most of the cost of treatment, especially when it is used to fill a cavity. The prices below reflect the cost of a bond without insurance:
Direct Composite Bonding
$300-$600 (per tooth)
Direct Composite Veneer Bonding
$250-$1500 (per tooth)
Indirect Dental Bonding (Inlays)
$650-$1200 (per tooth)
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Blue Ocean Publishing Group. The Million Dollar Smile, Changing Lives with Cosmetic Dentistry. 2018.
“Cosmetic Dentistry State of the Industry: Survey 2013” American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry | Dental CE Courses, aacd.com/.
Hollins, Carole. Basic Guide to Dental Procedures. John Wiley & Sons, Inc., 2015.
Kohli, Kent D. Smile Beautifully!: The Ultimate Consumer's Guide to Cosmetic Dentistry. 2016.
Syrbu, John DDS. The Complete Pre-Dental Guide to Modern Dentistry. 2013.