Bonding is a dental procedure in which a composite resin is used instead of metal or amalgam fillings to restore decayed teeth. Bonding may also be used for cosmetic purposes – filling in cracks in teeth or gaps between them, repairing misshapen teeth, and restoring the appearance of discolored teeth.

Whereas traditional fillings require a lot of the tooth to be removed (because the amalgams do not adhere to tooth enamel), bonding requires very little removal of tooth material – only the decay, so bonding fills the cracks or cavities while actually strengthening the tooth. Bonding essentially covers the front surface of the tooth with a thin coating of strong plastic resin, which can be colored and shaped to closely resemble your natural teeth.

Small corrections can be achieved using bonding in one dental visit. Larger corrections may require two visits, as a custom-fitted covering or veneer for the tooth may need to be created in a laboratory. The primary advantage of bonding over traditional fillings is aesthetic; the bonding materials are the same color as your teeth. The composites used for bonding also expand with your teeth as they grow and change, so they last longer and are less likely to create cracks. Another advantage is that the bonding process is painless; there is often no need for even a local anesthetic. One disadvantage of bonding is that the composites used for bonding (as opposed to the porcelain used in dental crowns) can stain, so you may need to avoid smoking or drinking tea, coffee, and red wine.

What can you expect if you have your teeth bonded?

In a single-visit bonding procedure, the dentist applies a mild chemical to the tooth to roughen its surface a bit, so that the composite resin can bond to it more tightly. The dentist then mixes the composite, colors it to match your teeth, and applies it in layers to the tooth. A bright light is then used to harden the composite material, and afterwards the dentist polishes and shapes the bonded tooth to insure a proper bite and make sure it looks like your other teeth. Because the procedure is painless, no anesthetic is usually required, and several teeth can be bonded in the same visit.