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.