When you think of cosmetic dentistry, some unpleasant things might come to mind: high costs, painful procedures, and lengthy treatment times. But fortunately, not all cosmetic treatments come with these negatives attached.
Although you may not have heard much about it, bonding is a very common and affordable cosmetic dental procedure. Typically used for minor chips or spacing between teeth, bonding is also very quick and virtually painless. In this guide, we’ll discuss how dental bonding works, the issues it can (and cannot) treat, and some alternative treatment options in case bonding isn’t right for you.
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How Does Bonding Work?
Dental bonding involves the use of a tooth-colored resin material to improve a tooth’s appearance or close small gaps between the teeth. The material is very similar to the one used by dentists to fill cavities. To start the procedure, your dentist will clean and prep your tooth or teeth before applying the resin material. Then, they will harden the material with a special light that bonds it to the teeth. Finally, your dentist will shave down the material where necessary, so that it will perfectly fit your teeth and enhance your smile.
The entire process of dental bonding only takes about 30-60min. to complete, depending on the number of teeth you want to treat. As a bonus, dental bonding is usually virtually painless and requires no anesthesia. You can complete treatment in just one office visit. And, the results will last anywhere from 3-10 years, depending on how well you take care of your teeth.
What Can Bonding Treat?
Dental bonding is best suited for minor cosmetic changes and should not be used as a replacement for comprehensive orthodontic treatment. Bonding is also great for the temporary treatment of cosmetic flaws on the front teeth. For example, if you have a small gap between your two front teeth, dental bonding could be used to address the issue temporarily.
So, if you’re considering a more permanent option like orthodontics or veneers, it may be helpful to receive dental bonding first. You can instantly see how the treatment will affect your teeth without having to make such a costly and permanent commitment. Unfortunately, dental bonding is not a good option for more advanced issues, like crowding, major spacing or large chips/cracks.
- Mild-to-moderate chips/cracks
- Discoloration or staining
- Mild-to-moderate spacing
- Small or irregularly shaped teeth
- Severe chips/cracks
- Most cases of crowding
- Severe spacing
- Areas of high bite pressure (molars)
Pros and Cons of Bonding
As we previously mentioned, dental bonding can be an excellent treatment option for minor cosmetic changes. However, like most procedures, there are both pros and cons that should be considered before you make a final decision.
- Quick and easy: Treatment usually takes less than an hour to complete. So, you only need to schedule one visit to the dentist.
- Instant results: Dental bonding provides results instantly. Unlike almost all alternatives, you can see the results of the treatment immediately after the procedure.
- Very inexpensive: Dental bonding is one of the least expensive cosmetic procedures available. The average cost of treatment is $100-400 per tooth.
- Virtually painless: Patients typically experience little to no pain whatsoever. And, no anesthesia is required.
- Not permanent: Results of dental bonding typically last about 4-8 years before needing to be touched up or replaced.
- Limited versatility: Dental bonding is not suitable for teeth crowding or any severe cases of misalignment.
- Low durability: Veneers and crowns are much more sturdy options than dental bonding. People who grind their teeth or eat lots of irritating foods may damage the bonding fairly easily.
- Prone to staining: The material used for dental bonding is not stain-resistant. So, poor hygiene or drinking things like coffee or wine too regularly may cause stains.
Bonding vs. Veneers: What’s The Difference?
Dental bonding and veneers are very different treatments. While bonding involves simply molding material onto the tooth to change its appearance, veneers are typically porcelain shells that are placed over the entire tooth. Because of this, dentists often recommend veneers for patients who want more of a “makeover effect.”
Veneers are also usually placed on all of the teeth that are visible when you smile. In contrast, dental bonding is used to make only minor cosmetic changes. So, bonding is usually only used on a few teeth for the standard treatment.
Although they both cover your natural teeth to make cosmetic changes to your smile, there are several differences between veneers and dental bonding. Cost, durability, and versatility of treatment are all factors to consider if you’re trying to decide between the two. To make things easier, we’ve compiled a list of the most important differences between dental bonding and veneers:
Dental bonding is, without a doubt, the cheaper option. Veneers can cost anywhere from $1,000 – $2,500 per tooth. Dental bonding costs a fraction of the price.
Veneers require your teeth to be shaved down, or “prepped,” as a part of the treatment process. This procedure is permanent and irreversible. Bonding does not require any prepping, so your natural teeth will remain unchanged.
Porcelain veneers are much stronger than dental bonding, so they tend to last longer. Veneers typically last about 10-15 years before they need to be replaced.
Dental bonding is only appropriate for very minor issues, like small gaps and chips on the teeth. Veneers can treat a wide variety of problems, including most cases of crowding, spacing, and discoloration or staining.
The material used for dental bonding is prone to staining. So, you’ll need to be more careful with your oral hygiene. Porcelain veneers are stain-resistant, making it much easier to maintain a white appearance to the teeth.
Other Treatment Options
If you’re seeking more detailed or dramatic results for a moderate-to-severe issue, dental bonding will likely not be a good fit. If crowding is your main concern, you may be better suited for a comprehensive orthodontic treatment, like Invisalign. Invisalign treatment does take an average of 18 months to complete. However, your dentist will be able to correct most issues of misalignment and even some bite conditions.
Also, since Invisalign uses clear aligners to correct misalignments, treatment is very inconspicuous. Finally, when your treatment is over, you’ll receive an aftercare retainer to ensure your teeth won’t move back to their original spot. So, Invisalign is a more permanent option than dental bonding.
If you’d like to correct your cosmetic issues with shorter treatment time, home aligners could be a great alternative. Boasting an average treatment time of just 6 months, home aligners are one of the quickest orthodontic treatments. Home aligners can also correct most cases of crowding and spacing. And, treatment is completed entirely from the comfort of your own home. So, you won’t need to worry about scheduling any trips to the dentist.
Home aligners work very similarly to the aligners used for Invisalign. You’ll need to wear the clear aligners for at least 22 hours per day and be sure only to drink water while you’re wearing them. However, convenience is the primary advantage of home aligners. So, if you’re worried you won’t be able to make time for regular trips to the dentist, home aligners may be the perfect option. For a more comprehensive look at home aligners and comparison of the top providers, check out our detailed guide.
Dental bonding can be a great choice for anyone seeking a cheap, quick option for minor cosmetic issues. However, for more severe cases or any crowding issues, a more versatile and comprehensive option will likely be more suitable. If you’re interested in dental bonding, it’s best to schedule an appointment with your dentist to discuss your options. And, find out if it will be a suitable treatment for your teeth.