Dental Bonding

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Dental bonding, also known as tooth bonding and cosmetic tooth filling, covers a range of cosmetic dentistry treatments designed to correct flaws in one's teeth, including discoloration, chips, misalignments, gaps between teeth, cavities in front teeth and more. Unless prescribed by a licensed medical professional to repair a problem brought on by an accident, dental bonding treatments generally aren't covered by health insurance policies, but they are now available at affordable rates.

In certain cases, bonding may not be enough to restore tooth functionality. Such cases may require the use of veneers, braces, etc. (How much do braces cost? How much do veneers cost per tooth?)

Tooth Bonding

Tooth bonding is a process of applying a tooth veneer, usually made of composite materials, to repair a client's teeth. These composite materials, known as dental composites, come in different shades that help ensure a match with the overall color of a client's teeth. At their core, dental composites are essentially plastic mixed with a variety of fillers and modifiers — finely ground particles of quartz, silica, glass and/or other tooth filling materials that enhance the strength and appearance of the composite.

The cosmetic bonding procedure begins with a discussion between the client and a qualified cosmetic dentist to set realistic goals and results. Once a tooth bonding procedure has been prescribed, the dentist will numb the teeth with local anesthesia as needed to minimize any discomfort during the shaping step. (Depending on how much shaping is required, anesthesia may not be needed.) Next, the dentist cleans the tooth and selects a dental composite that matches the color of the client's tooth. The dentist then prepares the area, keeping the tooth in question dry and protected from saliva and other oral fluids. The dentist then shapes the tooth as needed, buffing it down to make room for the dental composite and/or drilling away any decay, just as in a tooth filling procedure. The dentist applies an acidic gel to the tooth, then adds a dental bonding agent to the prepared surface and cures it with light to trigger the bonding action.

Once the tooth is prepared in this manner, the dentist will add layer after layer of dental composite to the tooth, hardening each layer with a curing light. When the amount of composite fully covers the treated area, the dentist will use a dental drill to shape and polish the area. After checking to ensure that the composite doesn't interfere with the client's normal bite, the dentist will polish and buff the dental composite as needed to achieve the final, desired result.

White Fillings

The best candidates for tooth bonding are teenagers and adults whose teeth have minor problems, including cavities, chips, poor alignment, gaps, discoloration and other flaws. Dental bonding can be done on any tooth, front or back, top or bottom, and can even be used to fill cavities in back teeth if a client wants a less visible white filling than the more common silver-colored dental amalgams.

There are no major risks or side effects to a dental bonding procedure when performed by a dentist in a sterilized setting. The buffing, cleaning and preparation process can cause discomfort to a client, but the dentist can administer Novocaine to minimize sensitivity. Clients may undergo a period of adjustment as they get used to the feel of the dental composite in the treated area.

Except in extreme, complicated cases, dental bonding can be performed in one session. The length of the session will vary from individual to individual, based on how much repair work is required.

Cosmetic bonding procedures are intended to address flaws in the client's teeth.Other facial needs may be treated through different cosmetic procedures such as dental bridges, dentures, dental implants or in office teeth whitening. Clients should discuss their goals and desired results with a qualified, board-certified cosmetic dentist before undergoing any cosmetic dentistry procedure.

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