Bonding in dentistry involves the connecting of two materials to one another, and most common and cosmetic dental procedures will involve bonding of one kind or another. For example, fillings are composite materials that are bonded to the surface of the tooth, while crowns are small casings bonded to the remaining portion of a damaged tooth. There are two common types of bonding procedures, each serving a different purpose. Bonding may be used to link two surfaces, such as in the case of fillings or attaching crowns, but it can also be applied directly to a tooth to create a desired effect. For example, direct bonding is used to repair a cracked tooth, or to fill in an area where a chip has been taken out of a tooth. Processes in dental bonding vary too according to the level of damage or decay sustained by a tooth. Minimal flaws allow for direct bonding to address the problems, though such treatment is not advised for people under the age of eighteen years old.
Teeth with significant damage may require a comprehensive covering to be attached in order to mask the flaws. This can include teeth that are not aligned, gaps between teeth, or decay that cannot be dealt with by a traditional filling. In such cases most dentists choose to apply veneers to the surface of the teeth. Veneers are usually made of porcelain and are handcrafted for each individual’s mouth. The patient will need to have their teeth properly shaped by their dentist prior to the placement of the veneer, but once the procedure is complete the patient will have a smile that appears natural and offers years of durability. When a tooth cannot be repaired through direct bonding it usually becomes a candidate for a dental crown. A dental crown is a small encasing cover that is bonded to the remaining natural tooth and provides protection from further wear, damage and decay. Crowns are generally crafted from porcelain or gold, and can be used on any tooth in the mouth. When any sort of bonding is required, it is wise for the patient to be certain that their dentist is adequately experienced in the technique. Some highly skilled dentists are not necessarily experienced at the bonding process and it is of great benefit to the patient to ask their dentist for an explanation of their history with modern bonding procedures. In order for bonding to function properly the tooth must be completely isolated, and most dentists employ a tool called a “rubber dam” which is slipped around the tooth inside of a powerful clamp. This prevents moisture of any kind from reaching the tooth and ruining the seal between the bonding material and the surface of the tooth. Next, a dentist will “etch” the tooth with phosphoric acid to give it the coarse texture used to enhance the bond, and then place the resin on the tooth, shaping and curing it as desired. This approach is used for fillings as well as mending techniques, and each dentist has their own particular approach. This is the reason it is important for the patient to schedule a follow up visit with their dentist after the application of the bonding agent, in order to be sure the seal is complete.