If your smile has an imperfection you’ve always wanted to fix, your dentist may have an easy solution for you called cosmetic bonding. In fact, you may already be familiar with the bonding process and the materials used if you've had a cavity repaired using a tooth colored filling. The same material is used in cosmetic bonding to correct blemishes, gaps and irregular sized teeth because of its ability to mimic the color and translucency of our actual teeth. The procedure is also fairly simple, and can be completed in your dentist's office with very little or no preparation.
How Is the Process Completed?Think of cosmetic bonding as being similar to sculpting. Since it is used most frequently to correct chipped or gapped teeth, when your dentist works with the bonding material, he assumes the role of artist as well as dentist, seeking to restore your smile to its most realistic look, feel and luminescence. First, the tooth is prepared by etching it to allow the bonding material to adhere to the tooth. This process is painless, and requires no anesthesia. Then, the bonding material is applied in layers to the tooth to maximize its strength and to create a look that most resembles your natural tooth. Once the desired look has been achieved, the composite is hardened with an ultra-violet light, and shaped and polished into its final form.
How Long Will My Tooth Bonding Last?While tooth bonding can't compare to the strength nature has given our teeth, it does come relatively close. With care, a bonded tooth can last ten to fifteen years for most patients when attention is paid to good dietary and eating habits. For example, as with your natural teeth, liquids such as wine and coffee can stain a bond over time, particularly where the bond meets the natural tooth. Also, if a bond exists on the biting edge of a tooth - as it would be in the case of a chipped front tooth - it can be vulnerable to breakage. Refraining from snapping into a carrot using a bonded tooth, then, would be a good idea. The biting of such foods can easily be diverted to one's side teeth, therefore protecting the integrity of the bonded tooth.
How Do I care for My Bonded Tooth?Take care of a bonded tooth the same way as you care for all the other teeth. Regular brushing and flossing is key, and some dentists may even suggest a maintenance routine with a hygienist specifically skilled in maintaining bonded teeth. When brushing at home, you'll want to be sure to use toothpaste that is geared toward the cleaning and care of bonded teeth - two good toothpastes to try are SuperSmile and Rembrandt. Supersmile can be difficult to find in stores, but most dentist offices carry the line. Lastly, limiting your intake of alcohol is not only good for oral heath, but doing so also helps protect the bonding material from premature wear.
If you have any more questions about bonding, be sure to ask your dentist or hygienist. Bonding is one of the most affordable dental procedures available, and can benefit your smile and your self-confidence tremendously.