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Dental Bonding

Dental bonding is a cosmetic and restorative treatment in which a tooth-colored composite solution is applied to a tooth to mask aesthetic flaws or fill small cavities. The malleable material is directly placed on the dental flaw to conceal its appearance; the composite resin is shaped over the tooth to hide imperfections and produce a natural appearance, and then hardened during a single dental appointment.

Ideal Candidates

Do you have minor aesthetic flaws affecting your front teeth? Are your teeth and gums in generally good health? Are you a non-smoker? If you answered yes to all of these questions, you may be a good candidate for dental bonding treatment.

In the dental bonding procedure, dentists apply the bonding solution in a shade that matches the patients surrounding teeth; if the patient desires a more brilliant smile, a purer shade of white will be selected. The bonding solution is then carefully applied to the tooth to improve its aesthetic. The amount of bonding solution that is used on each tooth and the number of tooth that are treated varies widely for each patient. The type of dental flaw or flaws that need correction will determine the manner in which composite resin dental bonding material is applied.

Cosmetic Uses

Cosmetic dental bonding is generally recommended to patients that want to correct smaller aesthetic problems. A thin layer of the composite resin material can be applied to a tooth to cover stains, discoloration, and cracks. Additional layers can be added to fill in gaps, address chips, and change the size and shape of a tooth. In most cases, dental bonding is used on just one or two teeth.

The difference, before and after, from the procedure can really help you see the quality of work in our Doctor. Photo Credit: John P. Goodman DDS
  • Close gaps: Large and small gaps between the teeth can be filled with the dental bonding treatment.
  • Crookedness: Minor crowding can be masked with the composite resin material.
  • Chipped tooth: A chipped tooth causes aesthetic issues, and makes the tooth more prone to decay. With dental bonding, both of these problems can be treated.
  • Discoloration: Yellow teeth and teeth that have white spots or tetracycline stains can be concealed with dental bonding.
  • Lengthen teeth: Lengthening short teeth can make the smile more proportionate.
  • After braces: Braces can cause tooth discoloration, and the teeth can shift out of place following treatment. Tooth stains, crowding, and gaps after braces can all be corrected with dental bonding.

Restorative Uses

The composite resin used for cosmetic bonding can also be used to treat minor decay on the front and back teeth; when the composite resin material is used to treat tooth decay, the treatment is referred to as a composite resin, or tooth-colored filling. A dentist will determine if a composite resin filling will offer sufficient support to the damaged tooth; if the tooth has suffered moderate to severe decay, inlays, onlays, or dental crowns may be a better treatment option.

  • Receding gums: Gum erosion is caused by gum disease, overly aggressive teeth brushing, and the consumption of highly acidic foods and drinks. If the gums have receded, dental bonding may be recommended.
  • Exposed roots: Gum recession can result in exposed roots, which leaves the tooth more prone to decay and sensitivity. The composite material can be applied to the roots to address these problems.
  • Enamel loss: The composite resin material can be used to rebuild natural tooth structure that has been lost. The composite resin protects the tooth from further damage or decay and treats tooth sensitivity.
  • Tooth decay: Tooth decay destroys the structure of the tooth, leaving depressions or holes that make the tooth vulnerable to breakage and further infection. The composite resin can be used to fill in these cavities and restore the health of the tooth.

Minor Cosmetic Imperfections

Minor cosmetic imperfections such as yellowed, stained, gapped, chipped, cracked, and misaligned teeth can treated with the dental bonding procedure. For more extensive cosmetic issues, patients may want to consider porcelain veneers.

Chipped Teeth

A chipped tooth can be caused by a number of events: a fall, sporting injury, car crash, bicycle accidents; these are just a few of the ways in which a tooth may sustain a serious injury. Treating a chipped tooth immediately will not only improve aesthetics, it will also protect the tooth from further damage. The application of the composite resin allows dentists to replace the lost tooth material with the durable and natural looking dental bonding agent.

Visit the DocShop gallery to view more dental bonding before and after photos.

Photo credit: Frisco Family Dental

Discolored Teeth

Some tooth stains and discolorations do not respond to professional teeth whitening treatment. Or, perhaps the patient suffers from severe tooth sensitivity, making teeth whitening a poor option. In other cases, the stains affect only a few teeth. In situations such as these, dental bonding can be used to produce a whitened appearance that remains consistent across the surface of the individual tooth, as well as with surrounding teeth.

Visit the DocShop gallery to view more dental bonding before and after photos.

Photo credit: Princeton Prosthodontics

Gapped Teeth

The presence of gaps, or spaces between the teeth, can make the teeth appear as the they are out of alignment, asymmetrical, and misshapen. Some patients have opted to undergo dental bonding treatment to close gaps completely or make them smaller. The dental bonding solution may be applied to a couple of teeth to close a single gap, or on multiple teeth to close the spaces between all of the front facing teeth.

Visit the DocShop gallery to view more dental bonding before and after photos.

Photo credit: Dr. Andrew G Mortensen

Misshapen Teeth

Similar to how dental bonding is used to fill in gaps, the composite resin can also be used to add additional width or length to the teeth. Dentists may apply several layers along the lower edge of the teeth to create an even line or better proportion; the solution may also be applied along the sides of the teeth so they sit snugly against one another. The result is a more beautiful smile that complements surrounding features rather than detracting from your overall appearance.

Visit the DocShop gallery to view more dental bonding before and after photos.

Photo credit: Steven Weinstein

Mildly Crooked Teeth

Dental bonding can be used to correct one or two teeth that are slightly out of alignment. During treatment, the tooth may be filed down slightly; then the composite resin is applied to make the tooth appear flush with the adjacent teeth.

Visit the DocShop gallery to view more dental bonding before and after photos.

Photo credit: Watergate Dental Associates

Chips and Fractures

Chips and fractures may be caused by constant biting pressure on a tooth, injury, or chewing on a hard objects such as ice. When cracks are present on the front teeth, it can be of cosmetic concern to the patient. Fortunately, the crack can easily be concealed during a quick dental bonding treatment at the dentist's office.

Dental Bonding after Braces

It is quite common for patients to undergo dental bonding after wearing braces or Invisalign® to enhance the results of their orthodontic treatment. The bonding solution may be used to mask any staining that was caused by the braces, or to change the size or shape of some of the teeth. For patients that wore braces years ago but have once again developed some crowding or gaps, dental bonding may be used to address these problems.

Dental Bonding for the Front Teeth

Dental bonding is best suited for use on the front teeth, which do not withstand as much pressure and daily wear and tear as the rear teeth. Of course, when it comes to treatment for the front teeth, patients want to undergo treatment that looks as natural as possible; we don’t want the telltale signs of restorative dental work to detract from our overall appearance. One of the greatest advantages of dental bonding, besides its relatively inexpensive cost and low risk of complications, is the composite resin solution can be matched to surrounding teeth; whether you have treatment on a single tooth or multiple teeth, others will not be able to distinguish the bonding solution from your natural tooth structure. The durable dental bonding solution conceals aesthetic problems without leaving any noticeable signs of cosmetic dental work.

Healthy Teeth and Gums

Generally, in order to be considered a good candidate for dental bonding, patients must have good oral health. Any dental problems such as cavities and gum disease should be resolved before the patient proceeds with cosmetic treatment.


The dental bonding solution can't be whitened after application, so it is recommend that patients stop or strictly limit any habits that can cause the bonding solution to become stained or yellowed. Patients that regularly smoke cigarettes will begin to notice increased discoloration of the teeth as the months and years pass; eventually resulting in the need for re-treatment.

The dental bonding treatment is relatively simple and quick. The entire procedure can be broken down into four phases: preparation, application of the bonding material, curing of the bonding material, and refinement. In most cases, the entire dental bonding treatment can be completed in one to two hours. This means that patients can walk out of the dentist's office with a dramatically improved smile after just one appointment. The actual length of your treatment will, of course, depend on the number of teeth you need to have treated.

The Treatment

Before you undergo dental bonding treatment, your dentist should ensure that you are a good candidate and discuss the costs of treatment with you.

1. The Preparation Phase

  1. Dental Bonding ColorTeeth whitening before dental bonding: The color of the dental bonding material used in your treatment will be matched to that of your natural teeth. If you wish to whiten your natural teeth, it should be done before you schedule a dental bonding appointment with your dentist. Then, your dentist can select a dental bonding shade that matches your newly whitened teeth. Patients that have their teeth whitened after dental bonding treatment may find that the shade of the natural teeth do not match those that have been treated with dental bonding.
  2. Selection of the dental bonding shade: Before your dentist begins treatment, he or she will compare your teeth against a special tooth color chart guide. This will help the dentist choose a dental bonding color that best matches your teeth. Once you and your dentist agree on a shade, the tooth preparation can begin.
  3. Placement of clear dental strips: The dentist will place clear dental Mylar strips or similar product between the treated teeth to prevent the bonding agent and cosmetic solution from getting on adjacent teeth
  4. Apply the etching solution: A dental etching solution is used on the surfaces of the teeth to which the bonding solution will be applied. This helps the bonding agent adhere to the tooth. Once it has been applied to all of the treated teeth, the etching solution will be rinsed away with water.
  5. Apply the bonding agent: A specialized dental tool with a tip that resembles a fine paintbrush is used to apply the bonding agent to the tooth. Once the agent has been applied to all of the teeth to be treated, the dentist can begin the cosmetic bonding process.

2. The Cosmetic Bonding Phase

  1. Dental Bonding ApplicationApply cosmetic bonding material: The dentist will apply a small amount of the bonding material to the tooth. The consistency of the bonding material is similar to that of cake frosting or paint spackle.
  2. Shape the cosmetic bonding solution: Then, using a metal dental tool with a flattened head, the dentist will shape the malleable bonding material on the tooth, extending the tooth in width or in length, depending on the patient's needs.
  3. Layer on additional resin: Additional bonding material may be layered on to achieve the desired look.

3. Curing of the cosmetic bonding material

Dental Bonding CuringOnce the dentist has smoothed the bonding solution on the tooth so the synthetic material blends seamlessly with the natural tooth, it will be hardened, or cured, with a UV dental light. You may be familiar with this step of the process if you have had a cavity filled with composite resin, the same material used in cosmetic dental bonding. The light will be directed at the bonding material for a several seconds. The dentist will then move on to the next tooth, and repeat the process: applying the cosmetic bonding material, shaping it, and curing it. At the end of the process, the Mylar strips will be removed.

4. The Refinement Phase

  1. Check symmetry: Using a special dental tool that measures the width and length of the teeth, the dentist will determine if the teeth are symmetrical.
  2. Refinement of the bonding solution: Using a fine dental drill, the dentist will remove small portions of the bonding material from the length and width of the teeth to create an even tooth line and make the teeth appear more uniform.
  3. Check the bite: Your dentist will place a thin, paper-like material between the upper and lower teeth and ask you to bite down; this helps the dentist to ensure that the alignment of the bite is correct. If needed, the bonding material will be further refined.
  4. Slightly etch the surface: Finally, your dentist will use a dental tool with a rotating head that will slightly etch the surface of the bonding material, giving it a more natural appearance.

Dental bonding offers a number of benefits and few disadvantages for those with minor dental imperfections. The majority of patients experience great results that last for several years.

Visit the DocShop gallery to view dental bonding before and after photos.

Photo credit: Scripps Center for Dental Care

After Treatment

There are few risks and side effects associated with dental bonding. The risks include the possibility of an allergic reaction to the composite resin material, or the development of an infection following the dental bonding procedure. The main side effect of dental bonding is increased tooth sensitivity, but this usually goes away soon after treatment.

Patients should care for teeth that have been treated with dental bonding by brushing the teeth twice a day, flossing daily, and visiting the dentist regularly. The composite resin is not immune to staining and does not respond to tooth whitening treatment. Dentists recommend that patients limit the use of foods, drinks, and habits that can stain the teeth once the dental bonding procedure is complete. Patients may require dental bonding touch-ups every few years to address bonding material that has faded, become stained, or chipped. For a durable restoration that lasts longer and looks more natural than dental bonding, porcelain veneers are a more suitable option.


The cost of dental bonding ranges from about $100 to $400 per tooth. The number of teeth to be treated depends upon your unique case and cosmetic goals. The cost of dental bonding may be covered by dental insurance. When dental bonding is performed for purely cosmetic purposes, patients should expect to pay for the total cost of treatment out of their own pockets. If the composite resin material is used to treat decay, dental insurance will usually extend partial or full coverage for the cost of treatment. When insurance coverage will not cover the cost of treatment, patients can apply for healthcare financing through patient financing companies.


The dental bonding procedure offers a number of advantages to patients. Patients that undergo treatment can expect:

  • A quick treatment: The dental bonding treatment can usually be completed in one to two hours; the length of the individual procedure depends on the number of teeth being treated.
  • A painless treatment: Even though numbing injections are not required for cosmetic dental bonding, patients do not experience any pain during treatment. Note that numbing medication is injected when the composite material is used to fill cavities.
  • A reasonable cost: Along with teeth whitening, dental bonding is one of the least expensive cosmetic dental procedures.
  • Durability: The composite resin used in the dental bonding procedure is quite durable, and can be expected to last for up to 10 years.
  • Excellent outcomes: The dental bonding procedure is safe and effective; dentists are able to consistently achieve great results with this simple treatment.

Visit the DocShop gallery to view more dental bonding before and after photos.

Photo credit: Dr. Dave Lee

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