There are several procedures available in cosmetic dentistry to improve the appearance of a smile. One of the most affordable that can make both minimal and dramatic changes is dental bonding.
Dental bonding is very versatile and can be used to:
Anesthesia is generally only needed if the bonding is being used to restore a deeply damaged or traumatized tooth, a fracture close to the nerve, a sensitive tooth, or one damaged by decay. The first step of dental bonding is etching the tooth, or roughening up the surface. This is done using an acidic etching gel (phosphoric acid), which opens up microscopic tubules that allow the bonding material to better adhere to the tooth surface. The edges are then cleaned to prepare the area to accept the dental bonding.
Once the tooth has been prepared, a liquid conditioning agent is applied, which wets the surface to further facilitate bonding. The dentist will choose a shade of dental composite that best matches the tooth being worked on as well as the surrounding teeth. The composite is formed and shaped to fit into the treatment area so that it can restore the natural contours and function to the tooth. It is applied to the tooth in layers, which will strengthen it. The composite is cured (hardened) using a special UV light. Once the curing is complete, any excess material will be removed and the composite will be trimmed as needed. When a satisfactory bite is achieved, the tooth will be polished to complete the procedure.
The entire procedure usually takes 30-60 minutes per tooth. Following the procedure, good oral care habits should be kept to maintain the health of the treated tooth as well as the mouth overall.