So, you’ve chipped or cracked a tooth — what now? You could get a veneer or crown, but they can get expensive. That’s where dental bonding comes in. Dental bonding can repair damage quickly without draining your wallet.

At the office of Virginia H. Ellis, DDS Dental Corp. in Orinda, California, we provide a wide range of dental services, including dental bonding. Here’s what you need to know about the process and the conditions it can treat.

The conditions dental bonding can treat

Dental bonding, also known as tooth bonding, involves applying composite resin to the surface of a tooth. It’s simple, fast, and one of the least expensive cosmetic dental procedures.

Dental bonding can fix a wide range of tooth problems, though it’s most commonly used to repair chips or cover discolored teeth. It’s also used to close large spaces between teeth, change the shape of teeth, and make teeth appear longer.

Furthermore, it can be used to repair teeth that have decay or are badly damaged, and it can also be used to protect tooth roots that are exposed by receded gums.

The bonding process

It usually takes 30-60 minutes per tooth to complete the bonding process. If you have a number of teeth to fix, you may need to make multiple appointments.

For the process itself, Dr. Ellis first uses a shade guide to select resin that matches the natural color of the surrounding teeth. Next, she slightly roughens the surface of the tooth and lightly coats it with a conditioning liquid so the bonding material will stick to the tooth.

Then, she applies the putty-like resin to the tooth and molds it until it’s the proper shape, and she “cures” or hardens the material with an ultraviolet light. Finally, once the resin has set, she performs any additional shaping or polishing so the bonding matches the rest of your teeth.

Taking care of bonded teeth

While dental bonding is quick and easy, the composite resin isn’t as strong as your natural teeth, or even as strong as a crown, veneer, or filling. That means you need to exercise some caution, or the material may separate from the tooth it’s repairing. Don’t crunch down on ice or bite down on hard food or candy with that tooth, or the material might chip.

In addition, the resin isn’t as stain-resistant as many other dental materials, so if you smoke or drink a lot of tea or coffee, that area may become discolored, especially during the first 48 hours after treatment. Frequent brushing or a teeth whitening treatment may help.

Properly cared for, dental bonding materials generally last 3-10 years before needing a touch-up. How long it actually lasts will depend both on how much bonding you have done and your dental habits.

In addition to avoiding hard and stain-producing foods, you should give your bonded teeth the same care as your natural teeth, brushing twice a day, flossing, using a mouthwash, and going to professional cleanings twice a year.

If you’ve got chips and stains that mar your smile, and you want an inexpensive fix, dental bonding might be just the thing for you. To learn more, book an appointment online or over the phone with Virginia H. Ellis, DDS Dental Corp. today.