A great question to ask about any potential dental treatment is: How long will this last? The mouth is a tough environment, and normal function takes a heavy toll on dental restorations. While nothing is as good as natural enamel, dentists are able to repair and rebuild teeth with a wide range of great dental materials. Each material has pros and cons, as well as its own unique life expectancy.
What is Dental Bonding?
Dental bonding is a term commonly used to describe dental restorations using composite resin (tooth-colored) filling material. Many people call it “bonding” because it does, in fact, bond to the enamel and underlying dentin. In general, rather than including “dental bonding” to describe every tooth-colored filling, it refers to the addition of composite resin to the front teeth.
In most cases, dental bonding does not require the removal of natural tooth structure. Your dentist will likely just do some minor recontouring or rounding of sharp edges before applying the composite material. For this reason, dental bonding is a very conservative way to make minor changes to the appearance of your teeth. Because your dentist doesn’t have to remove enamel prior to bonding, it can even be considered a reversible dental treatment.
What Dental Bonding is Not
We hear a lot of funny terms that people use to describe dental treatments. Specific to dental bonding, some of these terms could give the wrong impression about the material and the technique. Using the words “bondo” and “putty” for dental bonding makes it sound cheap, simple and temporary.
In reality, composite resin is a highly developed and very technique sensitive material that creates a micromechanical bond between the resin and the tiny pores within natural tooth structure. When applied and cared for properly, it can last for decades.
What Problems Can Dental Bonding Correct?
Your dentist can use dental bonding to change the size and shape of the teeth. If he or she also uses it to cover over the entire visible surface of a tooth (called a composite veneer), it can change the color of that tooth as well. Dental bonding is a wonderful treatment option to repair chipped or cracked front teeth because your dentist can blend it invisibly with your remaining tooth structure.
Composite resin bonding can also give the appearance of orthodontic correction. It is a common choice for closing small gaps or spaces between the teeth (also called diastema closure). In cases of minor crowding of the teeth, your dentist can add composite to certain areas of a misaligned tooth to make it look straight.
How Long Does Dental Bonding Last?
We’ve seen dental bonding that is more than twenty years old. The only reason we do not see much even older than that is because it has only been in widespread use in dentistry for the last twenty-five years. The changes in composite resin material over that time makes it more versatile and more predictable.
Just like any other type of dental restoration, composite is susceptible to failure from chipping or cracking and developing new cavities underneath. Heavy biting forces or forces from nighttime clenching and/or grinding can break the material or cause it to separate from the tooth (called de-bonding). New cavities can develop at the edge of any type of restoration. This will also break the bond between the composite and the underlying tooth.
Proper Care of Dental Bonding
In order to give your dental restorations the longest lifespan possible, you must commit to great care and maintenance. These recommendations are important for dental bonding, and they actually apply to any type of dental work you may have. All dental restorations are at risk for breaking, developing new cavities and failing.
By putting forth the effort to maintain your dental work, you can help it last as long as you do! The following recommendations will give you the lowest risk for complications with your dental bonding. The first three are important for fighting cavities, and the last three help prevent cracking and chipping.
- Commit to great, consistent oral hygiene at home.
In order to lower your risk for getting new cavities, you must work daily to remove dangerous plaque from your teeth. A great oral hygiene routine includes brushing twice a day with a fluoride-containing toothpaste, flossing before bed every night, and using a mouthwash regularly. Plaque, which contains the bacteria that cause cavities, loves to collect at the edges of dental materials, and composite resin is no exception. Remove the plaque every day with great oral hygiene to lower that risk.
- Never miss a dental visit.
When you keep consistent appointments with your dentist and dental hygienist, you lower your risk for new cavities. The dental hygienist performs a professional teeth cleaning, which removes dental plaque and hard tartar buildup from places you may miss, even with great oral hygiene. This also lowers your risk for getting new cavities.
The dentist will evaluate the state of your mouth, catching any warning signs or risk factors that affect the health of your teeth, gums and any current dental work. He or she can then make preventive recommendations to help you fight those risk factors.
- Stick to a low-sugar diet.
Sugar feeds the bacteria that cause cavities. If you restrict the sugar in your diet, you can “starve” these bacteria, so they cannot make acid and destroy your enamel with decay. Especially important are high-sugar drinks between meals; they cause more damage than a sweet dessert here and there. Cut them out to keep your teeth strong and healthy.
- Wear a protective nightguard while sleeping.
If you clench or grind your teeth, even sporadically, there will be evidence in your mouth. Your dentist should spot these warning signs and help you understand the risks to your teeth and dental work that this bad habit poses. Since it is usually an unconscious habit, occurring during sleep, the only way to fight it is by wearing a protective appliance that covers and protects the teeth.
- Never use your teeth as tools.
One of the most common culprits for chipping and breaking both teeth and dental work is using the teeth as tools. You should never use your teeth to open packages, cut fishing line, or hold hairpins. Teeth are for eating and speaking. When used for other things, they undergo stress that they weren’t made for, predisposing them to cracking and chipping.
- Avoid biting into hard food items with your front teeth.
With dental bonding, you do want to take care of what you bite into. Very hard foods like raw veggies and fruit, with the torquing motion we use to bite into them, can weaken the bond between tooth and resin. There are certain foods you might have to cut into smaller pieces.
More Questions about Dental Bonding?
Call your nearest Premier Dental of Ohio location to schedule a consultation with one of our wonderful dentists. They can answer any question you have about dental bonding itself or your current situation.