What is composite bonding?
Bonding is one of the most conservative, versatile and affordable ways to restore the anterior teeth aesthetically. It describes the dental procedures that involve the addition and bonding of materials to the teeth. It is commonly known as composite bonding since a "Composite" material, i.e. a glass filled resin, is used for fillings.
When would composite fillings be required?
Composite fillings are indicated when restoring cavities in front teeth. They are also used in situations which involve cosmetic corrections, such as:
- To close spaces between the teeth (diastemas),
- To lengthen teeth,
- To reshape crooked or misshapen teeth,
- To improve or change the color of permanently stained or discolored teeth.
How is composite bonding done?
The first step in the procedure involves the removal of decay. Since the composite material can be stuck onto the teeth, the drilling is restricted only to that part of the tooth which is decayed. In the next step the surrounding healthy tooth is mildly etched and rendered porus. The treated tooth is then coated with a bonding liquid. Once the liquid has set, the composite resin material is applied to the tooth, trimmed to the desired shape and polished to a natural appearance.
What are the advantages of composite bonding?
- Enhanced appearance - Available in a variety of colors and shades, the most obvious advantage is aesthetics. Composite bonding can look as natural and pleasing as your own tooth.
- Tooth conservation - Composite bonding adheres to the tooth itself and only a small amount of natural structure may be removed, involving only a minimum of drilling.
- Minimum anesthesia required - In purely aesthetic situations, drilling involved is minimal. Hence anesthesia may not be required and your teeth can be restored with little or no discomfort.
- However in decayed teeth, anaesthesia may be required. Quick results - Since composite bonding is fast and the results immediate, treatment is usually completed in one appointment.
- Economic - Composite bonding provides an affordable option for aesthetic treatments.
What are the drawbacks of composite fillings?
- Bonded areas are more prone to staining than natural teeth and fillings tend to stain and discolour over time.
- The material is brittle and fillings may chip if any extra force is applied.
- The fillings have a tendency to wear away with use.
What care would I need to take after a bonding?
To prevent your fillings from chipping, you should avoid biting fingernails, hair clips, ice and other such hard items. To protect them from staining it is better to decrease your intake of staining foods such as coffee, tea, red wine, and heavily flavoured / colored food and drink.
How often would I need to get my fillings checked?
Your fillings need regular maintenance and should be checked every six months. They will require polishing and touch ups every year or so.
How long can I expect the bonding to last?
The life of a composite filling would depend on the situation in which it is used. In purely aesthetic cases and in fillings in front teeth, your fillings will have a better prognosis. With good regular professional cleanings and check ups, your composite bonded fillings can remain beautiful and natural looking for a fairly long time.
Can I have composite fillings in my back teeth?
In back teeth, where the chewing pressure is very high and aesthetics are not a priority, silver amalgam is still the material of choice. World over, studies have shown a high rate of breakdown of composite fillings in back teeth. Not only do they wear faster than silver fillings, but the bond between the teeth and the filling tends to breakdown with time even in situations where the fillings were done under ideal conditions, e.g. using a rubber dam. This breakdown leads to secondary decay of the teeth and inflammation of the pulp of the tooth.
With today's advances in cosmetic dentistry, you can enhance your smile with cosmetic bonding, and at a fee you can afford. Remember, your smile is often the first thing people notice about you and the last thing they forget.