You don't always need to replace a chipped or broken tooth; in some cases, dental bonding is all you need. Bonding involves the application of a composite material to a tooth that contains a chip or discoloration. And although this process does have some major advantages over your other options – it's quick and inexpensive, specifically – there are also a few teeth bonding disadvantages worth considering.
Here are the pros and cons of bonding versus veneers, crowns and similar options – all of which you should discuss with your dentist to determine whether the treatment is right for you.
1. Not as Durable
The material used in teeth bonding is made of a special type of plastic called composite resin. It's a strong material, but the resin isn't as durable as your natural tooth enamel, nor is it as hardy as the porcelain used in veneers or dental crowns. When you receive a dental bond, you'll need to be particularly careful about eating and biting down on hard foods to avoid chipping or breaking the bond. If the edge of the bonded teeth feels rough or jagged, or if you notice any unevenness when you bite, it's a good idea to call your dentist and have him or her take a look at the treated tooth. He or she may need to file down the bond or replace it altogether.
2. Not as Long-Lasting
Keep in mind because teeth bonding isn't as resilient as its alternatives, it usually has a shorter shelf life as well. You can expect a bond to last anywhere from three to seven years, according to Dr. Kimberly Harms cited in Everyday Health, compared to as long as 40 years for a crown. How well you take care of your teeth and gums alongside your regular lifestyle habits play a big part in determining the life of the bond.
3. Not as Stain-Resistant
Another pitfall of dental bonding is that the material often used to create the bond isn't particularly resistant to stains. Composite resin is more porous than tooth enamel or porcelain, so it absorbs a deep-colored food more easily. If you're a regular coffee or red-wine drinker, for example, you might notice the bonded tooth discolors more quickly and noticeably than your natural teeth. Limiting coffee, wine and similar foods and drinks is therefore the easiest way to avoid staining the bonding resin. Of course, you don't need to give up coffee or wine entirely; an equally effective option is to practice good oral care. Brush twice a day, using a whitening toothpaste such as Colgate Total® Advanced Deep Clean to maintain the bond's healthy color.
Other Options to Consider
Any of these teeth bonding disadvantages can be a deal-breaker. If you find that the drawbacks of dental bonding do outweigh the positives, you can always consider other options. A dental crown is a great choice in the event that a broken tooth needs to be fully restored, or if a tooth has a cavity that is too large to correct with a filling. Your main concern may even be correcting discolored teeth or changing the shape or alignment of slightly crooked teeth, in which case veneers are also a good solution. Veneers are typically made of porcelain and are attached to the front of your teeth.
Choosing between dental bonding and other restorative options is often a matter of cost and convenience. Whereas bonding is more delicate than a crown or set of veneers, it's also a lot of less expensive. You typically need just a single appointment for bonding, and the process usually takes less than one hour per tooth. In contrast, veneers and crowns cost more upfront and often require multiple trips to the dentist. The trade-off is that they will withstand stains and hard objects much more easily, allowing them to last a lot longer than your typical composite resin.
If you need help deciding between bonding and other options, your dentist can help you choose the option that best fits your lifestyle and budget.