Expert Doctor

Dental Bonding

Dental bonding uses a composite filling material to restore teeth that have been damaged by decay or to repair teeth that have been cracked and/or chipped. The composite is a tooth-colored resin material, or durable plastic, which is applied to the damaged tooth to create a natural-looking, restored tooth. Dental bonding is also known as direct composite bonding or tooth bonding since a special blue light hardens the putty-like material to the tooth and bonds it together. Dental bonding can be used to correct a number of dental despondencies, increase the self-confidence of a person and improve a patient’s smile.

Am I a Good Candidate for Dental Bonding?

A GOOD CANDIDATE for dental bonding includes:

  • Patients with cavities or decayed teeth
  • Any patient with a fractured tooth
  • A patient who does not want amalgam fillings
  • Patients with slightly crooked teeth or those who desire to change the shape of the teeth
  • Anyone who wishes to close gaps between the teeth
  • Patients with worn teeth or those who wish to make their teeth look longer
  • Men or women who wish to improve the appearance of discolored teeth
  • A patient who has an exposed root due to the receding of the gums

The following patients are NOT GOOD CANDIDATES for dental bonding:

  • Patients with extensively damaged teeth
  • Patients with excessively crooked teeth may be better suited for braces
  • Patients with an infection and/or gum disease

How is Dental Bonding Performed?

Dental bonding can be performed in just a single appointment and usually takes about 30 to 60 minutes per tooth. It can often be performed without an anesthetic depending on the amount of work that needs done. A patient who needs a cavity filled, drilling to change the shape of the tooth or has a chip near the nerve may need an injection of anesthetic to help with discomfort.

Dental bonding is very conservative in regard to minimally reducing the natural tooth’s structure and this is true even when removing decayed portions of the tooth. A shade guide will be used to select a composite resin color that closely matches the patient’s natural tooth color. The dentist will place clear dental strips between the teeth to keep the composite resin material from getting on the adjacent teeth. A dental drill will be used to roughen the surface of the tooth and a conditioning liquid will be applied to the tooth to help the bonding material adhere to the tooth. The tooth-colored resin is applied, molded and smoothed to the desired shape of the tooth. A bright light, called a curing light, is used to harden the material. Once the material has bonded to the tooth, the dentist will trim and shape it again. Then, the tooth will be polished to match the sheen of the natural teeth and the bite will be checked.

Crown/Veneer Prep

Dental bonding is also done as part of the preparation for a crown or veneer. However, this type of procedure requires a greater reduction of the tooth’s enamel to make room for the restoration to fit over the natural tooth. Once a crown is placed on a tooth, it will always need some form of a dental restoration since much of the enamel is taken off. While crowns and veneers are sturdier and more stain resistant, dental bonding is often more cost efficient.

What is the Cost of Dental Bonding? 

The cost of dental bonding varies according to the number of teeth that need to be repaired, the patient’s dental issues and if other cosmetic dentistry procedures are performed at the same time. Dental bonding has an average cost of $200-$500 per tooth but a portion of the cost may be covered under dental insurance if the treatment is deemed to be medically necessary. Patients are encouraged to check with their dental provider, prior to the procedure, to see if they are eligible for coverage.

Recovery and Downtime

There is typically no RECOVERY after dental bonding for cosmetic purposes since the material goes on the outer surface of the teeth. However, if the patient had dental bonding to address a cavity, the dentist will need to remove the decay and reshape the damaged portion of the tooth. This can cause some tooth sensitivity so avoiding hot and cold foods or beverages for a few days can help to alleviate this discomfort. Patients who had dental bonding for crowns or veneers may also have sensitivity for a few days but this will resolve on its own.

If the patient had an anesthetic injection, he or she may experience an irritation of the gums at the injection site. Nevertheless, the patient may resume all normal activities immediately after dental bonding. Even though the bonded material continues to strengthen and become more stain resistant over several hours, patients should have a DOWNTIME of consuming dark colored foods and drinks during the first 24 hours after the treatment.


Results after dental bonding can be seen immediately. When performed by a skilled dentist, a composite restoration can last up to 10 years depending on the patient’s lifestyle habits and oral hygiene. Dental bonding is almost as strong as the natural teeth. However, dental bonding can break or chip over time if the patient decides to crunch down on ice or inedible objects. Touch-up procedures are not needed unless the restoration becomes stained. Patients should avoid smoking and cut back on stain producing foods and beverages such as coffee, black tea, soy sauce, wine, berries and tomato sauce to avoid stains. Thankfully, the dentist can polish and restore the luster of the restoration during routine cleanings and checkups.

Limitations of Dental Bonding

Dental bonding limitations include:

  • Small cosmetic changes
  • Areas of low bite pressure such as the front teeth
  • The amount of change that can be made to excessively damaged teeth
  • The treatment might not be able to help patients that need braces to fix crooked teeth
  • Whitening the teeth after dental bonding may result in different shades between the bonding and the natural teeth so whitening treatments should be performed prior to dental bonding

Risks of Dental Bonding

The risks involved with dental bonding include:

  • Sensitivity
  • Pain
  • Breaking or chipping of the bonded material
  • Sharp edges
  • Irregular bite
  • An allergic reaction to the bonding material
  • Discoloration of the composite material
  • The bonding coming loose from the tooth

Dental Bonding Restores the Smile

Dental bonding is a solution for minor restorative problems such as chipped, broken, crooked, gapped or stained teeth. The procedure can repair the teeth and restore the smile. Since there are many different options for teeth restoration, patients should consult with a qualified dentist to find out if dental bonding is the right option for them. Choosing an experienced dentist to perform the procedure is vital since dental bonding requires skills and experience to produce optimal results.

Written by Cosmetic Town Editorial Team- MA

Based on an exclusive interview with Andrew Reingold, MD in New York, NY