If you have a chipped or broken tooth, not only can it make you self-conscious about your smile, but it can also affect your oral hygiene because it is easier for food and bacteria to find nooks and crannies to stick to. Luckily, you don’t have to live with this for the rest of your life. Today, you have many different options for fixing the chipped or broken tooth including dental bonding, veneers and a dental crown. Dental crowns are most often used when a full tooth restoration is needed either because of an injury to the tooth or because of tooth decay. Veneers, on the other hand, are attached to the fronts of your teeth for cosmetic reasons to change the shape or alignment of your teeth.

There are pros and cons to each method so it can be challenging to figure out which is the best option for you. Dental bonding is a less expensive alternative, but when you weigh all the factors, is dental bonding worth it?

Dental bonding is when a tooth-colored composite material is used to reshape the broken tooth or cover up any discoloration. It can also be used to fill in small gaps between teeth and is sometimes used as fillings for small cavities. Before adding the bonding material to your teeth, your dentist first uses a phosphoric acid to roughen the surface of the tooth so that the bonding adheres better. The material is then added and re-shaped to fit your tooth. To help the bonding harden, your dentist will use a special light on the tooth. Once it sets, then it is polished so it looks like your other teeth. When done the bonding material will blend in with your natural smile so you can feel comfortable again showing off your pearly whites.

Dental bonding isn’t right for everyone, however. There are some advantages and disadvantages to dental bonding that you should take into consideration before making any final decisions.

Cheaper and Less Invasive

On the plus side, dental bonding is less expensive than crowns and veneers and most insurance plans will cover it.  It also requires a quicker and less invasive procedure. It can be done in one office visit and anesthesia is generally not required. Going this route means you will also lose less of your natural enamel. If your oral health is overall really good and you just have one chipped tooth or a small gap between your teeth, than bonding offers you an inexpensive and quick solution compared to the alternatives.

Not As Durable As Porcelain

On the flip side though, a higher quality material is used for crowns and veneers. The composite resin used in dental bonding is a strong material, but not as strong and sturdy as porcelain, the material of choice for veneers and crowns, which has a stronger shelf-life. When you eat, you will need to be careful eating hard foods so you don’t crack the bonding. If any of your bonded teeth start to feel jagged along the edges, you should make an appointment with your dentist to have it looked at. He or she may be able to just file down the jagged edges or may need to completely replace the bonding.

Because the material used in bonding is not as sturdy, you will most likely have to replace it a lot sooner than you would veneers or crowns. They will typically last up to 7 years where you could potentially have a crown for close to 40 years. The good news is though that your overall oral health and how good you clean your teeth and gums can help increase the longevity of the dental bonding.

Staining Is an Issue

Because the composite resin is more porous, it tends to absorb food coloring more and so you have more of a risk of having the bonding become discolored. This is especially true if you are a heavy coffee or red wine drinker. Cutting back on how much you drink these beverages and practicing good brushing and flossing habits, however, can help prevent discoloration.

Despite these disadvantages, there are some situations where dental bonding is the more practical solution. Usually it works best if you just have a minor cosmetic issue, but no underlying oral health concern. If you are looking to whiten or change the alignment of your entire smile though, veneers not dental bonding is going to be the more effective solution.

If you decide to go with dental bonding, then there are ways you can help the bonding last longer.

  • Cut back on teeth staining food and drink like tomatoes, red wine, tea and coffee
  • Stop smoking
  • If you have a bad habit of chewing on your nails or the top of pencil caps, then now is the time to find healthier ways to handle stress.
  • Avoid biting down hard on any hard food like raw vegetables or even ice.

Who does the bonding for you is also important. While you probably just assume you will ask your regular dentist to perform the procedure for you, that isn’t always going to be the best choice. Do a little research on the background of your dentist and on other recommended cosmetic dentists to see who has the most skill and experience to give you the best results. There is some artistry involved so don’t be afraid to ask for before and after photos so you can see their work for yourself. Also take the time to go on a couple of consultations with other dentists besides your regular dentist to get all your questions answered.

The important thing to remember is that there is “no one size fits all” solution for everyone. Dental bonding is not going to be the right decision for all situations. Protecting the health of your teeth and gums is the most important thing so make sure you talk to the experts and get the facts before making any decisions. When you finally have your beautiful smile back, you will be glad you took the time to make an informed decision.