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Composite Bonding

Composite Bonding – Your Questions, Answered. 

Composite Bonding
Composite Bonding

What exactly is composite bonding and how will it improve my smile? 

Composite is a dental material that we can “bond” to the natural teeth. It has many purposes, usually to cosmetically improve the appearance of the teeth by adding length, fixing chips, closing gaps or masking dark teeth. It’s become very popular as a treatment for improving the smile as it does not ordinarily involve any filing of the teeth and is cost effective in comparison to other options such as porcelain veneers.  

How long does a composite bonding appointment take? Will I need a consultation beforehand? 

The process starts with a consultation where we will assess your dental health and suitability for the treatment. All being well, a treatment plan will be provided which usually consist of tooth whiting first to maximise the natural tooth shade before a single appointment for composite bonding which typically lasts 2-3 hours.  

Can composite bonding help fill the gap between my middle teeth? 

Yes, it is particularly great for closing gaps and spaces, however sometimes orthodontics may be required.  

How long will the results last? 

It’s hard to put an exact time on the longevity of composite bonding, as with everything its hugely variable depending on factors such as your diet, lifestyle, oral hygiene and habits. The treatment is classed as a permanent one and should look great for many years if well maintained. 

I have a badly chipped front tooth – can this be fixed with composite bonding? 

Again, composite is great for fixing even just a single tooth which has chipped or fractured, you don’t necessarily need to have multiple teeth treated.  

How much does composite bonding cost and can I pay in instalments? 

You can usually expect to pay around £200 to £300 per tooth. We can of course add this to a payment plan for you to pay in manageable bite sized instalments every month. 

What is the main difference between composite bonding and porcelain veneers? 

There are a couple of distinct differences. Firstly, composite is a resin that the dentist places directly onto the teeth. It can be shaped and moulded to the desired look before being polished to a shiny finish. 

Ceramic veneers are placed indirectly, meaning multiple visits are required. Visit 1, the teeth are “prepared first” which usually means some adjustment to the tooth surface and removal of tooth structure is required to allow accurate and flush fitting of the veneers. A scan or mould of the prepared teeth is taken and sent to a laboratory where the veneers will be fabricated either by hand or by a machine. This process can sometimes be very quick or can take a number of weeks depending on the chosen laboratory and method.  

In the interim, the patient would wear temporary veneers until the next visit.  The porcelain veneers are then cemented to the teeth forming a very strong bond between the enamel and the ceramic.  

So, what’s the significant difference? Porcelain or ceramic is an extremely strong and highly polished material, harder even than the enamel of the teeth. It has the ability to maintain its polished surface through the years.  

Composite is a softer and more porous material; the result being that over time it will be more likely to lose its lustre and shine, pick up staining and is more likely to chip or break on occasion.  

Despite these apparent down sides, composite remains as popular a choice for patients, as it is less expensive at the outset, is less invasive, and can be repaired and maintained easily by the dentist.  

In summary, both are a great option for a patient looking to improve their smile, and a decision should be made between patient and dentist as to which is most suitable for that individual case.  

Want to learn more about composite treatments? Listen to my podcast on Spotify and iTunes, and find out Meg’s experience of Invisalign and composite treatments. 

theherald

Virtual dentistry will be the way ahead

A couple of months ago I wrote a piece in The Herald regarding the future of dentistry and what protocols would be put in place in order for patients to return to practices across the country.  Take a look…

There is no doubt that COVID-19 has brought disruption to everyday life. As restrictions begin easing across the country and we move toward ‘Phase 2’, it’s clear that what we understood as ‘normal’ is no more.

Working in close proximity to patients, according to national statistics, dental care professionals are among those at highest risk of exposure during the COVID-19 pandemic. Following the advice from the Chief Dental Officer, dental practices across the UK were shut down at the end of March and were ordered to stop all non-urgent treatment and work on a remote prescription and advice basis, with referral to NHS urgent care hubs. This has presented challenges for patients in terms of the availability of urgent dental treatment, not to mention managing pain in non-urgent cases.

For the Dental profession there is not only the concern for patient health but also worry over the survival of dental surgeries. A fear resulting from reduced income whilst overheads and operational costs are set to increase due to stringent protocols for virus control. The dentistry profession already adheres to the most stringent infection control protocols, yet even with such high standards, COVID-19 has added to and elevated the requirements. One of the world’s most coveted commodities at the moment is PPE. It has been widely agreed that viruses like COVID-19 require a higher grade of PPE particularly during aerosol generating procedures used in dentistry. Increased demand has resulted in inflated prices and this combined with the installation of air ventilation and purification systems has seen surgery operational costs increase drastically.

Online video consultations have become the ‘new normal’ and mark a big change for patients. Familiar to me in my practice, video calls are a useful tool for patient communication, to triage potential problems and monitor treatment. Complementing this will be patients completing online medical forms. I believe this new “virtual dentistry” to be a positive outcome, as it helps to reduce clinical time and remove an element of non-essential contact which in turn reduces risk. For patients, this could mean reduced travel to their dental practice for issues easily resolved over the phone and decreased waiting times for appointments. However, the need for dental services will not disappear and the current inability to access care is likely to create an urgent demand. Pre–pandemic access to NHS dentistry was difficult enough: According to the British Dental Association in 2019 over 4 million people across the UK were said to have an unmet need for dental care. The subsequent need for increased treatment time will mean fewer patients treated per day, only adding to the backlog.  As a consequence, dental practices will for a period see a continued reduction in revenue which when combined with significantly increased running costs will mean that many practices will struggle financially. When surgery doors open again, only patients who are asymptomatic and have had no contact with an infected person will be allowed to attend appointments initially. In some cases, temperature tests may be required. Social distancing rules will limit patients and staff in waiting rooms. Risk assessments and staff self-monitoring will take place to ensure a controlled and infection-free workplace – this may also be combined with regular antibody testing as a further preventative measure.

I have no doubt that this will be a difficult time for dentistry, however additional infection control measures mean a safer environment for patients and dental care professionals. I believe with the introduction of virtual consultations and digitisation, the dental profession will emerge stronger and renewed.