Types of Dental Bonding Treatment

Evidence Based
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What is Dental Bonding?

Dental bonding is the most affordable restorative treatment option for patients with chipped, cracked, or damaged teeth.

There are two forms of dental bonding available, including:

  • Direct dental bonding — during the procedure, a special adhesive and tooth-colored composite resins are used. The materials are bonded to your teeth using a high-intensity curing light. Only one appointment is needed for direct dental bonding.
  • Indirect dental bonding — this procedure involves an additional laboratory step. The dental restoration is made outside of the dental office. An indirect dental bonding procedure is separated into two appointments.

Direct dental bonding lasts up to 8 years depending on a patient’s bite and their eating and chewing habits.

Bonding is one of the most popular restorative treatment options for adults because it is painless and completed within one to two office visits. Dental bonds are also non-invasive, which means almost all patients qualify for treatment, even children with chipped or damaged teeth.

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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:

dental bonding statistics

Dental Bonding vs. Porcelain Veneers

Porcelain veneers are tooth-colored shells that fit over the front of your teeth. They change the shape, color, and size of teeth. They can also fix chipped, cracked, or damaged teeth.

Although aesthetically pleasing, porcelain veneers are not for everyone 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. Bonds are also reversible, while porcelain veneers are permanent.

It is essential to have an experienced restorative dentist apply a dental bond. This is because the material is particularly difficult to match to your exact tooth color. Bonds also stain easier, require more upkeep, and are less natural-looking than veneers.

When is Dental Bonding Treatment Necessary?

Other treatment options, such as dental 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 altogether and get bonding treatment. However, if teeth misalignment is severe, your dentist will recommend orthodontic treatment instead of dental bonding treatment.

Patients undergo dental bonding treatment to treat a variety of different minor dental issues, including:

  • Fix cracked, chipped, and damaged teeth
  • Change the shape of teeth
  • Close small gaps or spaces between teeth
  • Improve the appearance of discolored teeth
  • Relieve pain from exposed tooth roots due to gum recession
  • Fill a tooth cavity instead of using amalgam fillings

Types of Dental Bonding Treatments

There are two types of dental bonding treatment, including indirect dental bonding and direct dental bonding. Both treatments incorporate composite resin materials, which a restorative dentist "bonds" to your teeth using a special adhesive (unfilled resin).

Both direct and indirect dental bonds consist of composite resin. Composite resin is an extremely flexible, tooth-colored, putty-like plastic. It is extremely flexible and easily molds around tooth cracks, stains, and chips. Restorative dentists also use composite resin to fill cavities.

Direct Dental Bonding

Direct dental bonding quickly fixes chipped or decayed teeth during one office visit.

Direct dental bonds restore the shape, function, look, and color of a patient’s natural teeth.

jaw with dental polymerization lamp and dental fiber

Composite Dental Bonding

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 your teeth.

teeth with dental polymerization lamp and light cured onlay

The composite material is molded onto the teeth, cured with a high-intensity light, and then smoothed and polished. The procedure only takes 30 to 60 minutes.

Composite Veneer Bonding

Composite veneer bonding is generally considered a cosmetic treatment, which means it is elective and not covered by insurance.

Composite veneer bonding changes the shape, color, and size of teeth. It can also close gaps and change the length of your teeth. Composite bonds can last up to 8 years with proper care.

teeth with veneer

Indirect Dental Bonding

Indirect dental bonding is a restorative treatment that restores broken or decayed teeth.

The procedure is separated into two appointments:

teeth with dental inlay filling

During the first appointment, your dentist will make a mold of the damaged or decaying tooth. Then, the mold is sent to a dental laboratory, where an indirect filling or dental inlay is created. Indirect inlays and fillings are both made of composite resin materials. They are strong and durable because lab technicians use high heat to cure the restorations.

After the indirect restoration is made, you will visit your dentist again. During the second appointment, your dentist will bond the filling or inlay to your tooth.

Aftercare & Maintenance

Teeth that have dental bonds are more susceptible to chips and stains than other dental restorations. Additional oral care techniques are necessary, including:

  • Cut down on red wine, coffee, tea, and dark fruits that can stain teeth or cause discoloration.
  • For smokers, dentists recommend quitting altogether. Smoking also increases the risk of oral cancer and gum disease.
  • Avoid biting nails or chewing on hard foods and objects, such as raw carrots, pencils, and ice cubes.
  • Wear a protective night guard, if you clench or grind your teeth.

How Much Does Dental Bonding Cost?

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 dental bonding treatment without insurance:

Direct Composite Dental 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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Resources

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.

Updated on: October 20, 2020
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Alyssa Hill
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