Dental composites and tooth bonding can be a great solution for restoring decayed teeth. Composites can improve your aesthetic image by changing the color and/or shape of your teeth. The term “composites” refers to the composite resin filling material that is applied, or “bonded”, to the surface of a tooth to improve its appearance. Composites can lighten stains, close up minor gaps, and correct crooked teeth. They may be placed in the back as well as the front teeth. The term “bonding” refers to the process of applying a mild etching solution to the teeth in order to create a rough surface that allows the composite resin filling material to adhere to the teeth. Patients with small gaps between their front teeth or have chipped or cracked teeth are great candidates for composite bonding.

Composites & Tooth Bonding Procedures

Bonding begins with the application of a very mild etching solution to a tooth in order to create microscopic gaps in the enamel structure. These microscopic gaps or cracks create a slightly rough surface that permits a durable composite resin to bond to the teeth. The resin is then placed onto the tooth and a high-intensity ultraviolet light cures the resin to the surface of the tooth. After the last coat has been applied, the bonded material is sculpted to fit the tooth and then finely polished. The procedure takes longer than traditional metal fillings because multiple layers of the bonding material are applied to achieve desired results. Depending upon each individual case, the procedure may last between 1-2 hours. Composites last between 7-11 years.

Types of Bonding Procedures:

For small corrections: Small correction procedures require only one appointment to match the color of the composite resin material to the tooth and to bond the composite to the surface of the tooth.

For larger corrections: Large corrections may require two appointments to the dentist because they require a dental laboratory to create custom tooth-colored fillings. During the first appointment, a mold of your teeth is made and a temporary filling is placed on the affected tooth. Once the dental laboratory creates a porcelain filling from the custom fit mold, the filling is bonded to the tooth during the second visit. This type of filling is more natural looking, durable, and stain resistant.

Cost of Composites & Tooth Bonding

The average cost of cosmetic dental bonding ranges from $200-$600 per tooth.

Many dental insurance plans cover most of the cost of the bonding, particularly when it is done for structural reasons.

Pros and Cons of Composites & Tooth Bonding


Composite bonding is more aesthetically pleasing compared to metal fillings. Because metal fillings do not adhere to teeth very well, additional healthy tooth structure is usually removed to properly secure a metal filling.

The use of composites, permit the dentist to remove only the decayed area of the tooth. Composite bondings expand when applied to a tooth and are much less likely to cause additional cracking. Composites bond directly to the tooth providing support and will match the color of the rest of the teeth for a more natural look. Composites last between 7-11 years.


Bonding with composites may require more procedural time and the material used is costly. The composite resin material is porous and therefore excessive coffee, tea, and cola consumption, and smoking cigarettes, will usually discolor the composite.

Ask a Dentist, Dental Q & A – Composites and Bonding

Q – How long does it take for a procedure?

A – Depending upon the severity of the case, the composite bonding procedure may take as little as 5 minutes or up to 4 hours. The procedure can be performed within one dental visit. A dentist may require a patient to stay at the office for up to 4 hours to complete the procedure

Q – How many dental visits does it require?

A – The procedure requires only 1 dental visit.

Q – What are the various things I should keep in mind to get prepared for the procedure?

A – On the day of the dental appointment, it is highly recommended that a patient cleans his/her teeth thoroughly. The dentist will also check and clean the teeth prior to the procedure, but it saves time to be prepared.

Q – What does the dentist need to know about the patient?

A – The dentist should be informed of any and all medical conditions. This is necessary to avoid any complications that might occur during or after the procedure.

Q – What do I need to expect during the procedure?

A – The dentist will examine the condition of the gums and teeth. If necessary, the dentist will clean the tooth and the area around the tooth that needs filling. Although the procedure may require a couple of hours, it is not an uncomfortable procedure. The dentist applies a numbing topical jelly around the affected tooth, and an anesthetic is injected into the gum. The decay is drilled out of the affected tooth. The composite resin is mixed and tinted to match the color of the patient’s natural teeth. The dentist puts the composite resin on the tooth in layers. A very bright light is used to harden (or cure) each layer of resin as it is applied to the tooth. Bonding material is then applied to the tooth. After the last layer of composite resin has hardened, the dentist shapes and polishes the resin so that the finished tooth looks natural and smooth. Simple drilling may be required for this procedure to roughen the tooth and help the bonding paste adhere to the tooth. The area around the tooth is cleaned to remove any residue (bonding material) trapped between the teeth.

Q – What do most people experience after the procedure?

A – After the first visit, a patient may experience a slight degree of discomfort, but nothing that cannot be remedied with ordinary Aspirin or Tylenol. Some patients experience a minor ache for a couple of days.

Q – Are there any prescriptions provided after the procedure?

A – Usually Advil or Tylenol is recommended to ease the minor aches or pains that a patient may experience following the procedure.

Q – What medical conditions would disqualify a person from getting the procedure?

A – A person with any medical condition that would not allow any regular dentistry work is usually not recommended to have this procedure done. For example, a patient who suffered a heart attack a few weeks prior to the procedure should wait to get this procedure done. It is always best for the patient to inform the dentist of any medical condition or any prescription drug being used by the patient.

Q – How long do the results last?

A – Composites can last anywhere from 3-10 years, depending upon the patient’s oral health habits.

Things to keep in mind:

It is strongly recommend that a patient avoid eating sticky foods like gum, caramels, and taffy. Avoid hard candy and definitely do not chew ice cubes!


1 Christopher A. Jordan, DDS.