What is composite bonding?
Composite bonding is where a dentist or dental hygiene therapist applies dental composite resin to the teeth to make them look better. It is safer and less expensive than traditional veneers. It is also faster, being completed in minutes not days. This treatment is available for chips, cracks or closing diastema gaps. We like to think of bonding as ‘veneers light’ and our patients absolutely love this treatment for its superior speed, low price and beautiful smile makeover like results.
Dental bonding is different from composite veneers in that it corrects smaller problems in just a few of the teeth or even just one tooth. Another difference is that a dental hygiene therapist (similar to hygenists only more highly qualified) can carry out bonding under the prescription of a dentist. These are the same people who do our oral hygiene appointments. “Under the prescription” means that the dentist has a look at your bite and how the teeth meet (to make sure the bonding is appropriate) and then the hygiene therapist will do the work. Alternatively, your dentist can carry out the treatment although our hygiene therapists are extremely well qualified in these procedures and can produce some of the best results – like these:
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What dental Bonding is NOT
It’s not Composite veneers or a composite ‘smile makeover’. Here composite resin is applied to many teeth or all of the front teeth (also know as the social six). This is usually a much bigger procedure than bonding. Composites are also not the same as ‘composite fillings’ which are also known as white fillings for the back teeth or dental crowns which cover all of the surfaces of the tooth not just the visible parts and are made from porcelain. It can sound quite complicated but read on and you’ll get it all explained to you.
If you’re looking for something more dramatic than single tooth bonding – or fixing a number of damaged or broken teeth then you will need to make an appointment with a dentist. You can learn more on our main porcelain veneers page. Or to discover how you can get a smile makeover without breaking the bank then take a look at our composite veneers here.
Advantages & disadvantages of teeth bonding
Composite bonding is a great fix for many patients for a number of reasons. Firstly it’s a quick appointment and patients only need to visit the dentist or dental hygiene therapist once to have the treatment completed. So it’s a one visit treatment. This saves you time and money. This is unlike porcelain veneers that take a number of appointments and can take up to three weeks to complete.
Another advantage of resin over porcelain is that it doesn’t damage the underlying tooth. It is the least invasive way of getting teeth restored and fits well with the Smileworks culture of less invasive, conservative dentistry. This simply means that we are always thinking about the health and future of your smile and not just concentrating on the here and now or trying to take as much money from you as possible. We have plenty of patients here and get to do the work we love so can focus on what you want not on what’s best for us. Sadly, in 2020 the same cannot be said of many dentists here in Liverpool.
The composite material (Usually Renamel® or 3M®) is sculpted onto the teeth and there is no need to drill or file your existing teeth with no pain or damage. Many patients don’t understand the risks of having teeth drilled before getting porcelain veneers fitted. Especially younger patients in their 20’s and 30’s. We can count on one hand the amount of porcelain veneers we’ve fitted for younger patients because we consider it very risky, expensive and (in most cases) not in your future best interests.
The process of drilling the teeth – no matter how talented your dentist is – will always increase the risk of your healthy teeth becoming damaged or failing (falling out). This could lead to you needing a root canal or eventually implant treatment. And how many times have you heard of people having treatment abroad and having to go back to Turkey or Greece because one of their veneers literally just fell off! For more information on getting veneers abroad follow the link.
These are the risks and is one of the reasons a less invasive approach is usually better.
What to watch out for!
If you are young and have healthy teeth, watch out for your dentist getting all ‘gung-ho’ and recommending you have all your teeth replaced with porcelain veneers. This is also (not surprisingly) the most expensive treatment and requires the least amount of skill because the teeth are made in a lab and not sculpted while you are sitting in the chair. Porcelain veneers are a huge decision and your underlying teeth will be permanently damaged by the procedure. Composite bonding, on the other hand, is a reversible procedure and causes no harm at all. DO NOT GO ABROAD FOR TREATMENT. This is just a silly idea given the wonderful tools, people and procedures available here in the UK for the same price or less. If you are thinking of going abroad then you need a better dentist! What is more, once you return and ask us to ‘fix it’ for you. We will not be able to because your notes will be in a different language and the work is sometimes so bad our dentists will not put their names to it.
Composite bonding vs porcelain veneers – the risks
There are a number of important differences between dental bonding and porcelain veneers. Porcelain veneers are an invasive dental procedure. This means injections, the dentists drill and irreversible ‘prepping’ or drilling of your existing teeth. ‘Over-prepping’ is where a dentist makes a mistake and takes away too much enamel and causes damage to the sensitive underlying tooth structure. This can be fatal to the tooth. It can cause them to become damaged or fail. Patients who have porcelain veneers go through the ‘tooth prep’ procedure where some enamel is drilled away to make space for the veneer. Many younger patients or patients with more healthy teeth will not want to take this risk. We like healthy teeth at Smileworks. Let’s not turn them into little pegs if we don’t absolutely have to.
The second major difference between composite and porcelain is the time. With tooth bonding the procedure takes about an hour. You’ll be in and out of the chair before you know it. No injections and no drills. And the difference between the before and after leaves many patients amazed! Conversely, porcelain veneers are a much more involved procedure. There’s the prepping of the teeth in the first appointment. Then your dentist will work with a lab or ceramist to get your veneers made just how you want them. During this time you’ll be given ‘temporaries’.
These are temporary veneers while you wait for the final work to come back from the lab. Once the veneers arrive, they are fitted in another appointment. Then a follow up appointment is needed to make sure they fit perfectly. Your dentist also must make sure they haven’t negatively affected with your bite in any way. The procedure can take up to a month and is much more involved than tooth bonding and also goes wrong more of the time and carries a whole host of additional risks.
What to watch out for!
Many dentists are not familiar with – or don’t have much experience with composite resin or bonding materials. Thy have been fitting traditional veneers for their whole careers and are uninterested in this fabulous breakthrough in dental technology and materials science. So be careful if anyone says to you that they ‘don’t do resin bonding’ or ‘you’d be better off getting veneers’. They may be giving good advice but they also may be compromising your natural teeth because they haven’t gotten to grips with composite science. Here at Smileworks we use a beautifully lifelike and translucent composite material called Renamel® by cosmodent. It gets us some truly beautiful results but it’s tricky to use and there’s as much art as science in a beautiful Renamel® case.
Am I suitable for dental bonding?
Bonding is all about selecting the right patient for the procedure. Not everyone is suitable and your dentist will need to assess your mouth fully to determine whether you are a fit for the treatment or whether something else might be more appropriate. That said, most people are suitable for composite bonding. Especially if you have healthy natural teeth. Remember healthy does not necessarily mean they look the way you want! Many patients have beautifully healthy teeth and gums but they might be misshapen, gappy or crooked. If this sounds like you then resin bonding might be the perfect treatment. If you think your gums aren’t as healthy as they should be – take a look here at our gum disease treatment page and get treatment from our dental hygiene therapists – the same people who will likely be doing the bonding too.
What to watch out for!
When assessing a composite bonding case its important to find out what has caused the problems in the first place. If you grind your teeth, bite your nails or have other habits like biting pens or – god forgive you – opening bottles with your teeth, then composite bonding might not be right. This is because the composites will soon suffer the same fate as your natural teeth. You need to make sure your dentist does a full and detailed assessment of your bite. Also any habits that you might have need to be considered. Furthermore, any underlying health issues need to be assessed to make sure you’re a good candidate and your composites will stay looking great for a long time.