Dental Bonding

Tooth bonding or dental bonding is an excellent technique for small defects in teeth-chips, spots, gaps between the teeth. It isn’t so well suited for smile makeovers, though it is sometimes used for that.

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Here is a photo of a dental bonding case that illustrates how well this technique works in fixing a chipped tooth.

Dental bonding before

width=”125px” This tooth is discolored and chipped.

Dental bonding after

width=”125px” Here is the repair, done with dental bonding. The defect has been filled in and the color and texture has been matched to the rest of the tooth.

This case was done by one of our network dentists. The tooth is badly chipped. The dentist roughened the surface, etched the tooth, and applied a bonding agent. Then he applied composite restorative material to fill in the missing parts of the tooth. Notice how the dental bonding he applied blends perfectly with the tooth so that it is imperceptible where the bonding ends and where the tooth begins. Notice also that the tooth is not a uniform color. The repair is made of a blend of composite materials of different shades. The translucency also has to be duplicated, as well as the surface texture and gloss.

Doing work like this requires a true artist. Dentists tend to have an engineering tendency-they are good at fixing things. The vast majority of them do not have the kind of artistic inclinations for doing tooth bonding work like this. We strongly recommend that if you need tooth bonding work done and if the appearance of the work is important to you, that you seek out a true cosmetic dentist. See our cosmetic dentist referral page for more information.

Here are photos of another tooth bonding case restoring a chipped tooth. This work was done by Dr. David Hall, the author of this site. Notice again the subtle gradations of color, the gloss, and the mimicking of the translucency of the natural tooth in this work.

dental bonding before

width=”200px” This tooth has a large chip

dental bonding after

width=” 200px” Tooth bonding restores the natural appearance of the tooth

Dental bonding can correct a tooth gap, can cover spots, chips, and discolorations, can repair fractures, and can re-shape teeth.

This is generally used for smaller defects in one or two teeth. When a cosmetic dentist does a complete smile makeover, generally he or she will use an “indirect” technique, such as porcelain veneers, and the veneers will be shaped and baked in a laboratory according to the smile design prescription of the cosmetic dentist, and then applied to the teeth.

Tooth bonding is a “direct” technique in that it is done by the dentist directly on the tooth. This, of course, requires artistic ability on the part of the cosmetic dentist, since the work is done freehand with no outside help. Colors must be matched and blended, the tooth must be sculpted, finished, and polished to a beautiful result. We believe that patients should seek out specially trained expert cosmetic dentists to have this done. To find a dentist who is expert in these techniques, please see our referral page.

While dental bonding works very well for these small defects in the teeth-chips, spots, and gaps between teeth-it doesn’t work well for large smile makeovers. Porcelain is the material usually chosen by cosmetic dentists for smile makeovers. There are two reasons for this. First, when many teeth are being treated, the work becomes very time-consuming. Doing a smile makeover with dental bonding requires chair time, which is expensive. It ties up the entire dental office and requires the presence of a dental assistant and other staff. This amount of work can be done much more efficiently and cost-effectively by a dental laboratory with a master ceramist.

Second, the composite used for dental bonding isn’t nearly as durable or stain-resistant as porcelain. It seems wasteful to spend all those hours on a beautiful smile makeover only to have it begin to show signs of wear in a year or two. When dental bonding is used on small repairs, it seems to retain its luster better.

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