In dentistry, Dental bonding refers to the process of permanently attaching dental materials to your teeth using dental adhesives and a high intensity curing light.
Whether you realise it or not, you’ve probably had a dental treatment that involved either direct composite or adhesive bonding of a restoration (crown, bridge, porcelain veneer, inlay/onlay) made in a laboratory or in-office.
Direct Composite Dental Bonding
- Dentists use tooth-colored composites (white or natural-looking materials) to fill cavities, repair chips or cracks, close gaps between your teeth, and rebuild worn-down tooth edges. Dentists insert the materials into or on the teeth as needed.
- Because direct composite bonding requires the dentist to precisely place restorative material, the procedure is usually completed in a single dental visit. Additional visits may be required for more complicated or extensive treatments.
- For minimally invasive smile makeovers, the same composite materials can be directly applied and sculpted to the surfaces of teeth that show the most when you smile.
- While dentists refer to them as direct composite veneers, many people simply refer to them as “bonding.”
- For people with chips, gaps between teeth, staining and discoloration, slight crookedness, and misshapen teeth, composite bonding is usually a better and less expensive option than crowns or veneers.
Adhesive Dental Bonding :
Adhesive bonding is the process of bonding a restoration to a tooth with the help of an etchant, a bonding agent, an adhesive, and a high intensity curing light. This technique is commonly used for metal-free crowns, porcelain veneers, bridges, inlays/onlays, and fillings.
- Whether your treatment plan calls for direct composite restorations or adhesively bonded restorations, dentists begin the process by isolating the teeth with a rubber dam to prevent moisture interference.
- Anesthetic injections may be required depending on the extent of the treatment.
- Your dentist will then apply a gentle phosphoric acid solution to the natural tooth’s surface, which will not hurt. Similar to how roughing up a surface with sandpaper can help paint adhere to it better, acid etching of the tooth surface strengthens the bond of the composite and the adhesive.
- The phosphoric acid is removed after 15 seconds, and a liquid bonding agent is applied.
For a direct composite restoration:
- Your dentist will then shape and sculpt a putty-like composite resin on the natural surface of the tooth in stages.
- To harden that layer of composite, a high intensity curing light will be used, and the previous step will be repeated, then cured, until the filling or direct composite veneer has reached its final shape.
- Your dentist will also adapt a suitable finish to ensure that the bonded resin does not dislodge or cause tooth sensitivity, as well as that it feels and looks smooth and natural.
For a laboratory restoration :
Your dentist will apply the appropriate adhesive to the restoration, seat it on the tooth, and light-cure it for the appropriate amount of time using a high intensity curing light.
It is not uncommon for a bonded tooth to feel sensitive after treatment, especially if it has been filled or has had a crown or inlay/onlay placed on it. This minor sensitivity is usually transient, but if it persists, consult your dentist.
Consultation and Treatment Planning – Dental Bonding:
- To determine whether direct composite bonding can solve your dental problems, your dentist will first perform a thorough examination and evaluation of your teeth and gums. To fully evaluate your candidacy, X-rays of your teeth will be taken and reviewed.
- Your dentist will discuss the clinical and cosmetic issues that direct composite bonding can resolve during your consultation, such as cavities, chips, cracks, fractures, gaps and spaces between teeth, and tooth discoloration.
- However, if your teeth are severely damaged or your dentist believes that other dental issues may jeopardise the success and longevity of direct composite bonding treatment, other options, such as crowns or veneers, may be presented to you.
- Teeth whitening may be recommended prior to treatment to better match the colour of the composite restoration to your natural teeth.
- If whitening is required, your dentist may recommend waiting 14 to 21 days before placing direct composite restorations to ensure a proper and long-lasting bond to your natural tooth structure.
- When bonding materials are used to lengthen or change the shape of your teeth, changing the appearance of your smile, your dentist may take impressions of your teeth before treatment to create a preview model of what your new smile could look like.
- If you approve the proposed changes, your dentist may use this model as a guide or template when applying the direct composite to your teeth.
After Care – Dental Bonding:
Direct composite bonding restorations can give you a healthy and beautiful smile for many years, but you must follow your dentist’s recommendations for proper oral hygiene and avoid habits that could damage your restorations.
- Brush at least twice a day, floss once a day, and schedule routine examinations and cleanings with your dentist and hygienist.
- Because direct composite bonding materials are prone to chipping, avoid habits like biting your fingernails and chewing on pens, ice, or other hard objects.
- If you notice any sharp edges on the bonded tooth or teeth, or if the tooth feels different when you bite down, your dentist will advise you to return to the office.