What Is Composite Bonding & Does It Work?

Composite bonding can enhance the appearance of a tooth easily and painlessly. Learn if it actually works and how you can get it done inexpensively.

September 29, 2022
What Is Composite Bonding & Does It Work?

Cracked and chipped teeth aren’t ideal, but they’re sometimes just a natural effect of wear and tear on the teeth. But getting veneers, bridges, or other dental work to fix oral abnormalities is not ideal. 

Composite bonding is often a more welcome, painless alternative to many other procedures in cosmetic dentistry. It is pain-free and doesn’t require anesthesia, making it a great option for enhancing your smile without recovery time or surgery.

Let’s look at how composite bonding works, why you might need to get it, and how you can easily afford it – even without dental insurance.

What Is Composite Bonding?

Composite bonding, or cosmetic bonding, involves a dentist adding a special resin to your teeth to improve their appearance. It’s a modern way to restore teeth for cosmetic reasons or to help restore some structure to minor fractures and chips.

The “bond” in question is a composite resin that takes over where your tooth broke to make it look good as new. A tooth-colored material is placed onto the tooth and bonded to it to reshape existing teeth or improve their color. 

Composite bonding utilizes a very strong material that can last for many years, as long as you regularly keep up with proper oral care, including brushing and flossing.

Composite Bonding Procedure

One of the best things about composite bonding is that it is painless and doesn’t require anesthesia. First, your dentist will use a shade guide to select a resin that matches the color of your natural teeth.

Next, your tooth is prepared for the bonding to take place. This is done by roughening the surface and applying a conditioning liquid, allowing the resin to easily adhere to the tooth.

After that, the resin is applied. This putty-like bonding material is molded and smoothed to the desired shape to look like the natural tooth in question. The material is then cured or hardened with a curing light that “bonds” the material to the tooth's surface.

Finally, the dentist will make any final adjustments, including polishing the tooth to a natural-looking shine. From start to finish, the whole procedure only lasts around 30 to 60 minutes.

What Is Composite Bonding Used For?

There are many reasons why you might want to go through with a cosmetic bonding procedure. Here are some of the most common reasons:

  • Fixing Chipped or Cracked Teeth
  • Improving the Color of Teeth
  • Fixing Crooked Teeth
  • Fixing a Cavity
  • To Change the Length of a Tooth
  • To Change the Shape of Teeth

Fixing Chipped or Cracked Teeth

One of the most common reasons to use composite bonding is to fill in chips or cracks on the tooth. Minor chips can be fixed by bonding the high-quality resin to the affected site, enhancing the mouth's appearance overall.

Improving the Color of Teeth

Placing composite bonds over existing teeth can enhance their natural color. Teeth whitening and addressing undesirable discoloration is an aesthetic but certainly an important perk of bonding treatment. Choosing a resin material that is a whiter color than your natural teeth can help to give the appearance of a whiter and more vibrant smile overall.

Fixing Crooked Teeth

By strategically adding resin to certain places in the mouth, a dentist can help make teeth appear straighter and more uniform. With that in mind, this method is only useful for addressing minor positioning problems. You’ll likely need to get adult braces or another type of aligner for something more major.

Fixing a Cavity

Composite bonding is the second part of a procedure used to fill a cavity. After the decayed part of the tooth is removed, composite bonding fills in the cavity and restores the appearance and function of the tooth.

To Change the Length of a Tooth

If a tooth appears naturally shorter than surrounding ones, composite bonds can be placed on the bottom of the tooth to make it appear longer and more uniform in the mouth. 

To Change the Shape of Teeth

If a tooth looks a little bit lopsided compared to other ones nearby, composite bonds can help make the tooth appear straighter and more uniform.

What Are the Benefits of Composite Bonding?

Perhaps the greatest benefit is that it is completely painless. There is no drilling or anesthesia required, so this also means that there is no recovery period. You can eat, drink, and talk like usual immediately after the procedure has been completed.

Not to mention, a resin bond is estimated to last between 5 to 7 years as long as you continue to take good care of your oral health. It can also be done in just one visit to the dentist in under an hour while still being more cost-effective than many alternatives.

Disadvantages of Composite Bonding

While this procedure is fantastic, it’s not for everybody. Composite bonds can still stain if you frequently drink coffee, tea, or other acidic beverages. Not to mention, veneers can last about double the amount of time.

Composite bonds are also only useful for minor oral problems, like small cracks and chips. They cannot be used to address more moderate to severe conditions.

Does Insurance Cover Composite Bonding?

Dental insurance plans often don’t cover composite bonding because composite bonding is a cosmetic procedure used to improve the appearance of your mouth. 

An exception is if the filling happens after the removal of a cavity. As a cavity is considered a health hazard, most dental plans cover these situations.

But even then, only about 45% of dentate Americans have dental coverage, and the annual fees and monthly premiums can cause a lot more stress and coverage than it’s worth. If you don’t have dental insurance, that doesn’t mean you need to sacrifice the dental care you want or need.

Flossy is a low-cost alternative to dental insurance that lets you save up to 50% on dental services. With your free membership, you’ll have access to transparent, pay-as-you-go pricing for high-quality care from dental professionals in your area. No monthly premiums or annual fees – you only pay for the services you receive.

For tooth filling and composite bonding at up to 50% off, click here to find a professional dentist near you.

Incidentally, composite bonding is a painless procedure for your mouth, but it can cause quite a lot of discomfort to your monthly budget. A dental bonding procedure can cost anywhere from $300 to $600 per tooth. That doesn’t include any other subsequent or prior procedures that might be necessary to give you the desired appearance.

Composite Bonding vs. Veneers

Veneers are a similar treatment to composite bonding and cover the front or top of a tooth to restore its appearance and function. The major difference is that veneers require the removal of enamel from the tooth's front surface.

Veneers are also irreversible, meaning that once they are placed, they cannot be undone. The good news is that veneers last significantly longer than composite bonds, sometimes upwards of 20 years before needing to be replaced.

Since bonding doesn’t require significant enamel removal, it is usually completely reversible. You’ll likely need touch-ups every three to 10 years, but you could do so if you ever decide you want the bond removed.

What Happens After Dental Bonding?

After your treatment, you don’t need to do anything special to your teeth other than normal upkeep. Right when you leave the dentist’s office, you can eat and drink completely normally without any wait. You’re unlikely to feel any sensitivity, discomfort, or pain in the slightest.

Proper oral hygiene will help ensure that your bonds last for a long time before breaking off or wearing down. Good oral hygiene is not rocket science; it includes brushing and flossing your teeth twice daily while avoiding acidic foods and drinks that might wear away the composite bond.

Additionally, avoid doing things like chewing on ice cubes or hard candies in excess, as this can cause damage to a bond. These aren’t great for natural teeth, regardless, so try to avoid these activities even if you don’t get a dental bond.

Composite resin can’t be whitened in the same way a natural tooth can. Whitening gels won’t harm it, but you might need to get a replacement if you don’t take care of the resin and notice that it becomes discolored.

You may notice the resin when you bite down for a little while following the procedure, but you should get used to it fairly quickly. If something still feels wrong, or if you experience discomfort upon biting down, be sure to contact your dentist for a follow-up visit so they can make sure the bond has adhered properly.

Conclusion

Composite bonding is a cosmetic dental procedure in which a dentist adds resin to the teeth to improve their appearance. This resin is adhered to the tooth through a bonding process to ensure that its structure retains itself for many years with proper care.

Composite bonds can be used to address cracks or chips in teeth while also serving to whiten a tooth overall. This process is also used after a cavity is drilled to fill in the hole.

A major benefit of composite bonding is that it is painless and doesn’t require enamel to be worn away from the tooth instead of veneers. It also does not require anesthesia, and there is no recovery period.

The only problem with composite bonding is that it is often not covered under insurance since it's a cosmetic procedure. But that’s not a problem when you have Flossy. Flossy is a pay-as-you-go alternative to dental insurance that lets you gain access to high-quality dental care at up to 50% off the average price.

Click here to find a dentist near you and get the dental care you’ve been waiting for.

Sources:

Dental Bonding: What is Teeth Bonding & What to Expect | Cleveland Clinic

Cavities/tooth decay - Diagnosis and treatment | The Mayo Clinic

Regional Variation in Private Dental Coverage and Care among Dentate Adults Aged 18-64 in the United States, 2014-2017 | CDC