Cosmetic bonding, also known as dental bonding, is a procedure where a tooth-colored resin material is used to repair and restore a person’s smile. When the resin is applied to the damaged area, special light is used to bond the material to the tooth.

Dental Bonding Can Be Used for:

  • Filling a cavity in the tooth
  • Fixing a chipped or cracked tooth
  • Repairing the appearance of discolored teeth
  • Making teeth appear longer
  • Altering the shape of teeth
  • Protecting a portion of a tooth’s root that has been exposed because the gums have receded

Benefits of Cosmetic Bonding

  • Time: In most cases bonding can be done in one office visit.
  • Look: When it is done correctly, cosmetic bonding looks natural and you can’t even tell you had work done.
  • Affordable: Compared to porcelain veneers, cosmetic bonding is significantly less expensive.
  • Tooth enamel stays intact: Unlike porcelain veneers, you don’t need to remove tooth enamel when a tooth is restored using cosmetic bonding.
  • Pain Free: Cosmetic Bonding is not painful so you most likely won’t need anesthesia or pain medication when you’re having a bonding procedure done. However, if bonding is used to fill a cavity you will require a local anesthetic.

Drawbacks of Cosmetic Bonding

As with any procedure, there are disadvantages.  The drawbacks for Cosmetic bonding are:

  • Stains: The material used in cosmetic bonding procedures is stain resistant, but it doesn’t resist stains as well as crowns do.
  • Longevity: Cosmetic bonding does not last as long as other procedures like veneers and fillings. The resin used in the procedure can chip and break off the tooth which would cause another procedure to have to be performed.
  • Look: Your dentist’s skills and experience in performing cosmetic bonding procedures can cause various end results. In some cases you can tell that bonding work has been done.

The Bonding Procedure

Stage 1 – Prepration

Not much prep work is required to do cosmetic bonding.  Anesthesia is not needed unless the bonding is used to fill a cavity in a tooth. During the preparation phase of a cosmetic bonding procedure, the dentist will use a shade guide to pick the composite resin color that best matches your teeth. This will make the work look as natural as possible.

Stage 2 – Procedure

The dentist will need to prep your tooth for bonding by roughing it up a little. Then, the dentist will apply a conditioning liquid which helps the bonding material adhere to the tooth that is being repaired. Your dentist will then apply a tooth-colored putty-like resin. This resin is molded and smoothed to the correct shape and when the material hardens, the dentist will trim and shape it some more so it looks natural. At the end of the procedure, your dentist will polish the tooth so it matches your other teeth.


From beginning to end, a cosmetic bonding procedure can range from 30 to 60 minutes.

There are limits to what cosmetic bonding can do and is best suited for small cosmetic changes. It can also be used for a temporary correction of small cosmetic defects. It is most commonly used on the front teeth where the bite pressure on teeth is low. Consult with your dentist to find the best approach to fixing your cosmetic problem.