Dental bonding is a popular and versatile cosmetic dentistry procedure that can address various imperfections in your smile, from repairing chipped or discolored teeth to closing small gaps between teeth.
It is a quick, affordable way to fix chips, gaps, stains, or uneven teeth, with a typical lifespan of three to seven years, though it may last longer with best dental care habits.
However, tooth bonding comes with some risks. Unlike its alternatives like porcelain veneers or crowns, the resin material used in bonding is not as strong and durable. As a result, it tends to wear down faster and break easily depending on factors such as bonding thickness, position in the mouth, and patient habits, requiring more repair sessions than other tooth repair options.
How Strong is Dental Bonding?
With tooth bonding, the dentist applies a resin material that is molded onto the tooth surface and hardened using a curing light. But because it uses a plastic resin, bonding is not as robust and fracture-resistant as materials like gold or porcelain used for crowns and veneers.
The plastic resin is more prone to chipping and fracturing under pressure, from trauma like:
- Biting/chewing on hard foods, nails, or ice
- Grinding or clenching
However, when placed properly by an experienced dentist, bonding can last 5-7 years or longer with proper care. This involves avoiding excessive biting forces, using a night guard to protect against bruxism, and maintaining good oral hygiene helps prolong bondings.
Still, some minor repairs will be needed as the material gradually wears down. While not as indestructible as a crown, dental bonding doesn’t necessarily “break easily” when precautions are taken to protect it. You should discuss your habits with your dentist to determine if bonding could withstand your lifestyle.
Factors Impacting Bonding Durability
There are several factors that influence how well bonding holds up:
Thickness of the Bonding:
The thickness of the dental bonding material plays a crucial role in its durability. Repairs that are less than 1mm thick are more prone to fractures, while those that are 2mm thick or more tend to be more durable. That said, very large bonding can also be more vulnerable, and crowns might be more suitable. Dentists carefully consider the required thickness based on the specific tooth and the extent of the bonding needed.
Location of the Bonding:
The location of the bonding on the teeth significantly impacts its lifespan. Bonding on front teeth, which are more prominent and commonly used for biting and tearing, tend to show wear and tear sooner than those on less prominent teeth. Patients should be aware that bonding on front teeth may require more frequent touch-ups or replacements.
Teeth Grinding (Bruxism):
Patients who clench or grind their teeth, either during the day or at night (a condition known as bruxism), put significantly more stress on their dental bonding. This can lead to earlier cracks, fractures, or wear. Dentists often recommend night-guards for patients with bruxism to protect their dental bonding and natural teeth.
Individual patient habits can play a substantial role in the durability of dental bonding. Habits such as nail-biting, chewing on ice, or using your teeth to open packages can increase the risk of chipping or damaging the bonded teeth.
Diet matters when it comes to the longevity of dental bonding. Avoiding hard or sticky foods, as well as excessive consumption of staining agents like coffee or red wine, can help extend the life of your dental bonding.
Dental bonding typically involves the use of composite resin, which, while durable, isn’t as robust as porcelain veneers or crowns. Composite resin is more prone to chipping and staining over time. That said, more advanced resin formulas, which are continually evolving, offer enhanced strength and longevity compared to older formulations.
Quality of Bonding Procedure:
The durability of dental bonding isn’t solely about the material; the quality of the bonding procedure also plays a vital role. The steps involved in bonding, including proper tooth isolation, preparation, precise placement of the bonding material, and thorough curing (hardening) of the material, are all critical for achieving long-lasting results. Patients should ensure that they choose a qualified and experienced dentist who follows best practices for dental bonding procedures.
Oral Care Habits:
Proper oral hygiene plays a crucial role in the durability of dental bonding. Patients must maintain a regular oral care routine, including brushing, flossing, and routine dental check-ups and professional cleanings, to prevent issues like decay or gum disease, which can compromise the bonding.
Caring for Bonding
You can extend the lifespan of your bonding by:
- Wearing a night guard if you grind your teeth
- Avoiding bad habits like chewing on hard foods, ice, bones, fingernails, or using our teeth as nails
- Using a soft bristled toothbrush and brushing/flossing gently
- Seeing your dentist promptly if you notice cracks forming for prompt repairs
- Getting periodic polishing to smooth away microscopic wear
- Maintaining a strict oral hygiene routine, including brushing at least twice a day and flossing daily.
- Being mindful of your diet, limiting foods and drinks that can stain your teeth or contribute to decay.
- Visit your dentist for routine check-ups and professional cleanings to monitor the condition of your bonded teeth.
Over time, small fractures, staining, or sections worn down by chewing may need attention. Thankfully, bonding are easily repaired. Your dentist can polish away rough spots, re-fill chips or gaps, and re-cure new resin to keep your smile fresh. In many cases, repairs can prolong the life of bonding for additional years before replacement is needed.
In summary, while tooth bonding may not be indestructible, it does not necessarily break easily if it is the right treatment for your case, and if you take care of your teeth, including prompt repairs when you notice the repair wearing down.
With proper care and maintenance, you can enjoy the benefits of dental bonding for several years. However, if you seek a longer-lasting solution, alternatives like porcelain veneers or crowns may be worth considering, and your dentist can help you explore these options based on your specific needs and goals.