Bonding is among the easiest and least expensive cosmetic dental procedure. The composite resin used in bonding can be shaped and polished to match the surrounding teeth. Most often, bonding is used for cosmetic purposes to improve the appearance of a discolored or chipped tooth. It also can be used to close spaces between teeth, to make teeth look longer or to change the shape or color of teeth.
Sometimes bonding is used as a cosmetic alternative to fillings, or to protect a portion of the tooth's root that has been exposed because of gum recession.
Tea, coffee, cigarette smoke and other substances can stain the resin used in bonding. To prevent or minimize stains, avoid eating or drinking these types of foods and drinks during the first 48 hours after any composite procedure. In addition, brush your teeth often and have them cleaned every six months by a dental hygienist.
The first step is to schedule a consultation with your dentist so you can discuss your treatment goals. Your dentist will use a shade guide to select the composite resin color that matches the color, of the tooth or teeth, most closely.
Once your dentist has chosen the color, he or she will slightly etch the surface of the tooth to roughen it. The tooth will then be coated lightly with a conditioning liquid, which helps the bonding material adhere.
When the tooth is prepared, your dentist will apply the tooth-colored, putty-like resin. The resin is molded and smoothed until it's the proper shape. Then the material is hardened with an ultraviolet light or laser.
After the bonding material hardens, your dentist will further trim and shape it, and polish the material until it matches the sheen of the rest of the tooth surface.
The procedure usually takes 30 minutes to an hour to complete. If you're having more than one tooth done, you may need to schedule more time or additional visits.