Gone are the days of restoring teeth with unattractive metal fillings. New technology and training coupled with dental artistry have replaced unsightly fillings with natural tooth-colored fillings. Cosmetic bonded fillings are tooth-colored resin (durable plastic) materials used to fill in gaps, fill cavities and change the color, shape and/or length of teeth. Bonded resin is a very sturdy material that forms a strong bond to tooth structure. Bonding usually lasts several years and usually requires a single office visit.
When teeth have small chips or decay, bonded composite resins may be the material of choice because they are less expensive and a more conservative approach than other restorative options. Today’s tooth colored resin material is very strong, color stable and reinforces the tooth’s strength. Amalgam (silver) fillings leak around the edges, do not look good and often lead to cracked teeth. Silver fillings do not bond to tooth structure well and over time often get decay underneath.
Bonding can be used to close spaces between teeth. When there are gaps between teeth, bonded resin can fill the space and provide an esthetic outcome sometimes avoiding more expensive restorative options like veneers or crowns.
Bonding can be used to change the color of a tooth by layering brighter layers of resin over the tooth to match the other teeth. This is usually done with a slight amount of removal of dark section of tooth followed by layering of lighter resin.
Resin may also be used to lengthen teeth and correct misshaped teeth. When teeth are worn short, chipped or misshaped, resin is often a good choice to restore the teeth. Resin is also less expensive than crowns or veneers and can usually be done in one visit.
With advanced bonding techniques, training and materials coupled with expertise, one can restore worn and broken teeth as well as make an esthetic difference.
Dr. Robert A. Gallegos is a Fellow in the Academy of General Dentistry, he is on the faculty of Spear Education, a member the American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry, the American Academy of Dental Sleep Medicine and the American Dental Association. Dr. Gallegos practices dentistry in Middleburg, VA.