Usually, the first impression you give other people is a smile. However, smiling with confidence can be challenging if you have discolored or chipped teeth. At Washington Dental, we understand the role a flawless smile plays in boosting your self-confidence.

Consequently, we offer various cosmetic treatments to enhance patients’ tooth aesthetics and improve their smiles without compromising their budget. One of the treatments we offer is bonding, which has several benefits. If you wish to undergo bonding in Lomita, CA, call us for fast, comfortable, and confidential services.

What Is Bonding?

Bonding, also called dental bonding or teeth bonding, refers to a cosmetic dentistry treatment that utilizes tooth-colored composite resin material to improve a person’s smile. During the treatment, the dental professional cements the tooth-colored composite resin to the damaged teeth to improve their appearance and make them whiter, brighter, more even, and more attractive. Dental bonding can be performed to:

  • Close spaces and gaps between teeth.
  • Hide tooth discoloration or stains.
  • Conceal cracks or chips in your teeth.
  • Repair broken teeth.
  • Change a tooth’s shape.
  • Fill minor cavities.
  • Lengthen a tooth that is shorter than others.

Unlike other cosmetic dental procedures like porcelain veneers, the teeth bonding process is reversible. Also, unlike crowns used for dental fillings, the color of the composite resin material will match the tooth color, so the repaired teeth will continue looking natural.

Why Opt for Dental Bonding?

Most people are concerned with how their smile looks. But fixing cracks and chips is also essential for your general oral health. It assists you in chewing properly and helps prevent more damage that may further threaten the adjacent teeth's health.

Types of Dental Bonding

There are two primary types of teeth bonding procedures direct bonding and indirect bonding.

Direct bonding — this is the more prevalent of the two types. It is an in-office treatment where the dentist applies composite resin directly to the tooth surface in a single dental visit. They then shape the resin, finish it, and polish it to generate a natural tooth appearance.

Indirect bonding — for some dental problems, the dentist crafts and shapes the bond away from the office and then applies it to the tooth undergoing treatment. Indirect bonding is done in two dental visits.

In the first appointment, the dentist takes the patient's tooth impressions, sends them to a laboratory where the bond is made, and obtains the date required to mold the bond. The patient's customized composite bond is made from the impressions taken of their teeth and sent back to the dental professional in approximately fourteen days.

In the second visit, the dental professional cements the bond to the patient's tooth to finish the treatment.

Obtaining indirect teeth bonding is similar to obtaining restorations such as crowns. Dentists generally recommend this type of bonding for moderate to severe tooth damage that cannot be corrected with direct dental bonding.

Best Candidates for Bonding

Teeth bonding is ideal for teeth that are not severely decayed. It also works perfectly for teeth that have sustained minor injuries. If you have lost a tooth (or a significant tooth part) or the tooth has sustained severe damage, you may prefer an implant to dental bonding. A dental implant replaces the rot and tooth entirely with a porcelain-made crown and implant.

Additionally, dental bonding is ideal for individuals who are already content with their tooth color. If you have always wished to undergo a teeth whitening process, you must do so before asking your dental professional for dental bonding. The dental professional will select a bond that matches your natural teeth color, and should you undergo teeth whitening later, your natural tooth enamel will become lighter, yet your bond will not change color. This may cause the teeth to have an uneven color.

The Bonding Procedure

Dental bonding is an outpatient treatment that does not necessitate anesthesia. Anesthesia is only needed if you also need to undergo dental fillings. Also, if the dental professional identifies a tooth cavity that requires filling before bonding, you may have to be anesthetized if they must drill the cavity to extract decayed matter.

Other instances where anesthesia would be necessary include if the dental professional needs to extensively reshape the tooth undergoing bonding or if the tooth is chipped or broken near the nerve, as the bonding process may bump the nerve, causing pain. But, in most bonding treatments, anesthesia is not necessary.

Before undergoing teeth bonding, your dental professional will discuss your cosmetic goals. They will also take X-ray pictures of your mouth and examine your gums and teeth to ensure you qualify for the treatment. If you have gum disease, severe tooth decay, or other severe oral health issues, the dentist will likely require you to treat those problems first.

Step One: Preparation

A little preparation work is required to prepare you for dental bonding. The initial preparation stage entails the dentist selecting composite resin with a color that matches the tooth color. Your dental professional will utilize a chart to ensure they have made the correct choice.

The next step of preparing for bonding may entail the dental professional cleaning your teeth to ensure the place undergoing treatment is tartar- and plaque-free. However, in many cases, the cleaning will already have been conducted during the regular cleaning appointment.

Step Two: The Bonding Process

The next step entails the dentist cementing the composite resin material to the existing tooth or teeth. If you have ever used epoxy to coat a floor or have done woodworking, you understand that etching or roughing the surface before gluing assists in opening up pores and making an excellent attachment.

This same approach applies to teeth. The dental professional starts the bonding treatment by roughening the tooth surface. They may use a coarse paper or diamond bur, which forms a fine layer of debris onto the tooth enamel and the dentin underneath it, known as a smear layer. The dental professional can realize a smooth transition from the original tooth to the bonding by fading the etching out as it nears the tooth edges.

The dental professional then removes the smear layer using a mildly diluted phosphoric acid solution or utilizes a bonding agent that penetrates it (the smear layer) and incorporates it into the bond with the resin. If the dentist uses a mild acid solution, they will rinse it away after 20 minutes. The dentist may use plumber's tape, also called Teflon tape, around surrounding teeth to safeguard them from mixing with the acid solution.

The next step is for the dentist to apply the dentin bonding agent, also called bonderizer, using a brush and then cure it using an LED light for ten to twenty seconds. The bonding agent ensures a firm grip between the composite resin bonding material and dentin and enamel.

Various bonding agents are available, and your dental professional will select one that is best in speed, reliability, applicability with a given etching technique, and other features.

The dental professional will then smear the resin bonding material on the affected tooth and mold it to correct the damage. Everything is then dried or hardened using UV light. It is fine if you do not think it is perfect at first. Your dental professional can do further tooth shaping.

Some dentists do the shaping completely using their hands, while others utilize a basic mold or lingual stent to help craft the bonded tooth's shape. However, since this stent is not customized to a patient's mouth, art will still be involved when shaping the composite resin into a more natural replica tooth. The dental professional will use the corresponding tooth shapes on the opposite side of the mouth as guidance to ensure the bonded teeth are symmetrical.

To obtain the desired tooth shape, the dentist will create fine cuts and trims in the composite resin to generate realistic grooves and contours in the bonded tooth. This could be done even after the composite resin has hardened, and the process is painless. Therefore, if they need to, the dentist can return to your tooth at any time and make further refinements.

If the treatment is significant, the dental professional might repeat adding and curing composite resin numerous times since it is challenging to cure an extensive resin amount at once.

Once the dental professional finishes applying the composite resin and has obtained the desired tooth shape, they will make any necessary final adjustments, smooth and polish the tooth, and finish to achieve an attractive, naturally-looking shine.

Additionally, the dentist must take note of your teeth's translucency and whether or not they are polychromatic or monochromatic, which they could mimic by layering the resin with various shades while utilizing a brush or wheel to polish the composite resin and then finish with an aluminum oxide glaze.

Time of Completion

The general direct teeth bonding procedure lasts thirty minutes to one hour per tooth, depending on how much work needs to be done and the dentist's experience level. The recovery period is unnecessary.

So, unless you were under anesthesia, you should resume eating, driving, working, and other chores immediately after your treatment. You may have a different mouth feel or a slight tooth sensitivity for a few days, but it will disappear quickly. Over-the-counter pain medications can assist you in easing this discomfort.

Risks Involved In Dental Bonding

The teeth bonding procedure involves only a few risks, as it is not a surgical procedure, and anesthesia is rarely involved. You may develop an allergic reaction toward the composite resin utilized as bonding material, but this rarely happens.

Whereas none of the composite resins used in dental treatments directly contain the Bisphenol A endocrine disruptor, many contain Bisphenol A derivatives or have components that become Bisphenol A when they mix with saliva. However, most professionals believe the advantages of bonding outweigh the involved risks by far, and research shows scouring and rinsing fillings and sealants after application removes more than 95 percent of the components that can turn into Bisphenol A.

Caring for the Bonded Teeth

Even though bonding composite resin will repair your tooth or teeth, you must care for them properly. Whereas no specific care is required for teeth that have undergone bonding, a proper oral hygiene routine is an essential factor in maintaining their appearance.

Ensure you brush your teeth twice daily using fluoride toothpaste and a soft-bristled toothbrush, and floss at least once daily. Additionally, visit your dentist every six months for cleanings and general check-ups.

Also, even though composite resin bonds are quite long-lasting, they are not as strong as teeth. So, to protect bonded teeth, you want to avoid doing activities such as chewing on pens or ice cubes. Hard candies and foods in excess can also damage your resin. But these are not good for your natural teeth either, so it is best to generally avoid them, particularly if you have a history of breaking or chipping teeth.

Managing teeth-grinding is another way to care for your bonded teeth. Most people grind their teeth (a condition called bruxism) unconsciously during the day or while they are sleeping. This can affect the bond's lifespan, so managing the grinding can help. You can manage bruxism by seeing your dentist or practicing relaxation techniques.

You also want to remember that composite resin and tooth enamel do not resist permanent stains. You will more likely experience permanent discoloration or stains if you smoke tobacco or cigarettes or drink a lot of red wine, tea, and coffee. Unfortunately, whitening composite resin is not possible. Therefore, should you stain your bonding, you may be stuck with it unless you replace it or change it to veneers.

You could whiten your bonded teeth. Whitening gels will not harm the resin, although you will notice inconsistency in color since the appearance of your tooth will change, but the bond will remain the same.

The bottom line is that whitening is unpredictable, and it is best to whiten before bonding, particularly if you wish to bond one of your front teeth. If you do it the other way around, you might need to replace the bonding altogether.

Bonded Teeth Lifespan

Dental bonding is a durable way to correct a smile, although it is a temporary solution. Bonded teeth generally last between five and ten years, although some may last up to fifteen.

How long the bond lasts depends primarily on how properly you care for your teeth after the treatment. Poor oral hygiene can damage the bond or cause discoloration and staining. Understanding how to care for the bonded teeth assists in ensuring their longevity.

Durability may also depend on where in the mouth you had bonding done. For example, if the bonding was on frequently used teeth like premolars or molars, it might not last long. 

Cost of Dental Bonding

Compared with other cosmetic dental procedures, dental bonding is less expensive. Overall costs vary depending on the patient's needs, from $925 to $2,500 per tooth.

However, like many other dental procedures, the amount of money you will pay will be based on the specific treatment you need and your insurance plan. In most cases, insurance does not cover cosmetic procedures if there is no need to correct a dental health-related or medical problem.

Teeth Bonding Benefits and Drawbacks

Dental bonding has disadvantages and advantages, just like other cosmetic dental procedures that correct the smile. Understanding these benefits and drawbacks is essential, as it helps you decide whether dental bonding suits you.

Benefits of Dental Bonding

Dental bonding is widely conducted, and there are many reasons for its popularity. These include:

  • Fewer dental appointments — for the direct teeth bonding procedure, which is the most commonly performed, only a single visit to the dental office is required.
  • Cost-effective — dental bonding is less costly compared to other cosmetic dentistry procedures. Veneers, a prevalent alternative to bonding, are more expensive.
  • No recovery period is needed, so you can resume eating your everyday foods and return to your usual work immediately after treatment.
  • Less invasive — compared to other procedures like placing dental veneers, little to no tooth enamel needs removal for dental bonding.
  • It is a low-risk procedure — teeth bonding is highly safe because the bond application only happens on the tooth surface. There is a low risk of complications, and the treatment is entirely reversible.
  • Versatile — teeth bonding can correct numerous cosmetic problems, including discoloration, stains, gaps, cracks, and chips.

Teeth Bonding Disadvantages

Compared to other cosmetic dentistry procedures, dental bonding has a few drawbacks. They include:

  • Staining — bonded dental restorations are more susceptible to staining than veneers and crowns.
  • Longevity — even though the composite resin material utilized in dental bonding is strong, there is a higher possibility of bond cracking or chipping. Dental crowns and veneers last longer.
  • Limited scope — even though this procedure can be ideal for removing discoloration or correcting minor flaws with the smile, there are restrictions to what it can achieve. For example, it cannot replace teeth, and you will likely require crowns for more severe cases of tooth decay.

When to See a Dental Professional

If you notice discoloration, cracks, or chips or are concerned about the appearance of your teeth, schedule a dental appointment. They can discuss your cosmetic goals with you and develop a personalized treatment plan that fits your needs.

After undergoing the dental bonding process, call your dental professional if you see any sharp edges on the bonded tooth or if the tooth feels odd.

Lastly, if you have recently undergone dental bonding, contact your dentist if your bite feels off. They can correct this problem at a brief appointment.

Dental Bonding Alternatives

The teeth bonding procedure is one of the most prevalent ways to restore your shiny, attractive smile. However, numerous other alternatives to this treatment can also enhance your smile. They include:

  • Crowns — based on what problem you aim to fix, dental crowns might be suitable for you. They are restorations placed directly onto the tooth, such as a crown or a cap, to give the teeth a smile makeover.
  • Dental braces — contrary to what many people think, no one is ever too old to obtain dental braces. Nowadays, dental braces do not have to be those embarrassing metal restorations we see in old TV shows and movies. People of all ages can turn to dental braces to correct minor or major dental problems and improve their smiles.
  • Teeth whitening — sometimes, the only thing to do to improve your smile is freshen up a little. Teeth whitening products are an easy and quick way of doing it. There are numerous over-the-counter teeth whitening products you can use, although your dental professional can also assist you in achieving a pearl-white look.
  • Dental veneers — likewise, you can ask your dental professional to make veneers to fix your smile. Veneers will enhance the appearance of your teeth while shielding them from damage.

Teeth Bonding Vs. Veneers

Veneers are shells designed to fit over existing teeth. They are an alternative cosmetic dentistry option for achieving more minor corrections to your smile.

Dental bonding and veneer placement differ in certain aspects. For example, the dental professional does not grind down your tooth enamel when placing the bond, unlike they do for dental veneers. Thus, should you damage your bond, you can have the dentist fix it without worrying about what your strange tooth looks like, something you cannot do for veneers.

The bonding procedure is reversible. You will likely require touch-ups every three to ten years. On the contrary, dental veneers are non-reversible. They will only need to be replaced every ten to twenty years.

Another difference is that, even though they are highly effective, veneer treatments are generally more extensive and expensive than dental bonding. Lastly, resin breaks or chips more frequently than veneers.

Find an Experienced Cosmetic Dentist Near Me

If you are in the market to obtain a smile makeover or only want to see your options, we at Washington Dental are readily available to help. Our experienced dentists have decades of combined experience in cosmetic dentistry and are devoted to assisting patients in and beyond Lomita, CA, to achieve optimal oral health. Whether you are considering undergoing bonding, teeth whitening, veneers, or any other cosmetic dentistry procedure, we are delighted to make your dream smile a reality. Call us at 310-326-5183 to schedule your appointment.