Cosmetic bonding: the simple and affordable dental tweakment explained

edge bonding dental tweakment
The rise of cosmetic bondingMelodie Jeng - Getty Images

With the soaring popularity of orthodontics, driven by teeth straightening via near-invisible braces, comes another rising dental tweakment: 'edge bonding'.

While specialised, it is among the easiest and least expensive of cosmetic dental procedures, whereby the addition of composite resin is fixed to the edges or surface of the teeth, with the goal of enhancing their uniformity.

"I love doing edge bonding after orthodontic treatment, so for example post-Invisalign," explains dentist Dr Rhona Eskander, founder of Chelsea Dental Clinic. "Once the teeth are perfectly straight, we can place some bonding to make the edges of the teeth look neater." Indeed, for many dental experts, braces and bonding go hand-in-hand, though the latter may be the lesser talked about of the two.

While transparent aligners used for straightening feel like a relatively new phenomenon, bonding certainly isn't – but it has come a long way. "It is simply a white filling material traditionally used for the back teeth. Over the last ten years the aesthetics of bonding has improved; the consistency and colour range, as well as its longevity. As such, more and more people are using bonding for the front teeth."

Dr Eskander theorises that the pandemic-galvanised 'Zoom boom' has been another trigger in the rising popularity of bonding, with people "noticing not only their static image but also their dynamic image [from] watching their face and smile in motion". She was mainly treating patients age 20-to-35 prior to 2020, but is now inundated with requests from those over 40. "A lot of people who do not want anti-wrinkle treatments and fillers recognise how teeth can create a more youthful appearance."

Here the dentist explains everything else you need to know about getting cosmetic bonding.

Who edge bonding is suited to

Unless only used to correct the appearance of individual chipped teeth, "edge bonding is only suitable for cases where the teeth are perfectly straight, meaning you may need orthodontic treatment first," she notes.

The difference between bonding and veneers

"Veneers are a completely new front surface for a tooth. They are more invasive, and expensive, than bonding. However if you want a more full 'Hollywood look', composite veneers will give that over edge bonding."

The main benefits of bonding

Besides the intended aesthetic results, the pros of bonding are myriad, Dr Eskander says: "It is good to use for cracks and chips as well as discolouration and to correct misalignment," she confirms. "No injections are needed for the treatment, you don’t need to drill the teeth to place bonding, and it can be placed in one or two sittings." Plus, "if a piece of bonding chips it is easily repairable".

It's also quick to do, Dr Eskander adds. "It usually takes about 30 minutes to an hour to complete a procedure. If you're having multiple teeth done, you may need to schedule several visits."

The drawbacks of bonding

"It is very technique-sensitive and if not placed well bonding can look very poor," she says. "In fact, if it’s not placed well, it can also attract plaque which can cause gum disease." Plus, it’s relatively high maintenance with the potential to chip and stain easily: "you need to make sure that your diet is optimal to keep the bonding looking good, so for example not drinking too much black coffee, red wine, or smoking."

The longevity of bonding, and how to maintain it

This is variable, she says. "It completely depends on what materials were used, how well the material was placed, and how well the teeth are looked after by the person who has had the treatment. In general it can last between two-to-five years, though people often experience that the material does dull down after a couple of years."

As already explained, bonding can chip easily, given that the composite resin isn't nearly as strong as a natural tooth, so "avoid biting your fingernails or chewing on ice or pens," she advises. People with bonding also need to schedule regular appointments with their dentist and hygienist, so that they can maintain the health and appearance of the results.

Extra care should be taken at hygienist appointments, and Dr Eskander favours low-abrasive EMS cleaning methods, such as ultrasonic scalers and air-polishing. "Professional cleaning should be performed carefully to maintain the integrity and appearance of the bonding," she says.

How bonding works with whitening

"Bonding cannot be whitened in the same way that teeth," Dr Eskander reveals. So if you want a brighter smile when considering bonding, "you need to whiten your teeth first – then your dentist will match the material to the colour of the teeth". There is a limit to how white you can get your smile when you have bonding, she adds, which is why some people opt for composite veneers, instead.

How much edge bonding costs

Again, this depends on the practitioner, Dr Eskander notes, "but average prices for treatment can range from £150-£600".

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