What is composite bonding?
Composite is a tooth coloured filling material used by dentists to carry out fillings following
the removal of decay and can also be used for patients seeking an aesthetic improvement in
their smile. Teeth that are discoloured, chipped, rotated or spaced can be reshaped by
bonding on a composite resin to provide the impression that the teeth are straighter, even, whiter and more in-line with each other.
If you are looking for a change in your smile, composite can be an excellent material to use
on its own, or in combination with other treatments such as orthodontics (braces).
Treatment planning assessment.
It is important to have a a treatment planning assessment to determine exactly what your desires are,
and for your dentist to highlight any other aspects which you may not be aware of. Once we
know what you would like to achieve, we can provide a bespoke treatment plan for your
At the consultation we may decide to take impressions and can wax up desired shapes on a
model to help us with treatment planning, but also to show you the potential outcome. We
will almost always take some photographs.
Before you start your treatment
It is important to have a healthy mouth before embarking on any bonding treatment. This
includes an excellent oral hygiene regime, healthy gums and a disease-free mouth. We may
ask you to see your own dentist/hygienist as part of your pre-treatment work up, but also to help maintain your mouth following your treatment.
It is also important to be happy with the shade of your teeth before starting; if you want
your teeth whiter it is best to have this done before any other treatment is carried out so
that we can ensure all your work matches.
How long will it take?
Depending on your treatment plan it can take 2-3 visits. At your first appointment your dentist may take models of your teeth and request some changes by a technician to show which improvements can be made. When you return you can view these and decide if the proposed shaping are something that you are happy about. The smile can also be previewed in your mouth without doing it definitively to provide you with a further idea prior to committing to the work. The next appointment or stage is the provision of the bonding much of ; this is often a lengthy appointment, the dentist may place a rubber sheet over the teeth to protect your mouth and ensure the bonding is as good as can be. In other instances this might not be needed if the dentist is confident of keeping everything as dry as possible. The next stage your dentist will carry out some further polishing and make any minor adjustments necessary. We like to have a last appointment as a review to ensure you are happy with the results and we can take some further photographs.
Often, if we are not removing old fillings to replace them, the treatment can be done
without any local anaesthetic.
Potential Risks and Complications:
- In preparing the teeth for treatment it may be necessary to reduce or roughen the
surface of the tooth to which the composite can be bonded. This preparation will be done as
conservatively as possible, but once this is done, the patient is committed to the treatment.
If the filling/covering breaks or comes off, the uncovered tooth may become susceptible to
decay if the composite is not replaced in a timely manner.
- Sensitivity of teeth: Through the process of modifying teeth, there is the possibility of the
development of tooth sensitivity which may last for days or months following tooth
preparation. In most cases, this sensitivity will alleviate over time but in rare instances is
- Chipping, breaking or loosening of the composite may occur any time following
placement. Many factors may contribute to this happening such as: chewing of excessively
hard materials; changes in occlusal (biting) forces; traumatic blows to the mouth; failure of
the bond between the composite and tooth; and other such conditions over which the
dentist has no control.
- Alteration in speech: Since the composite may be wider and/or longer than the natural
teeth they are covering, a difference in speech may be evident. Most times the patient will
adapt to the change and speech returns to normal very shortly after placement. The
composite may need to be adjusted in order to alleviate problems with speech.
- Sensitive or allergic reactions to anaesthetics or materials used in the procedure.
- Aesthetics/Appearance: Every attempt possible will be made to match and coordinate
both the form and shade of the composite, which will be placed to be cosmetically pleasing
to the patient. However, there are some differences, which may exist between that which is
natural and that which is artificial making it impossible to have the shade and/or form to
perfectly match your natural dentition. Once veneers are bonded to the teeth, should the
patient desire any changes later a fee may be assessed to cover any extensive adjustments
- Longevity: It is impossible to place any specific time criteria on the length of time that
composites should last. Once the tooth structure is prepared the patient is committed to
having the composite for life. Should the composite become damaged, leaky, or stained,
they will need to be replaced. A rough estimate for composites is around 5-7 years.
- Composites are susceptible to staining just like natural teeth. Composite resin tends to
stain more readily than porcelain. The composite may need to be polished regularly. If there
is excessive staining, marginal leakage, or chipping occurs the composite may need to be
changed. Every attempt to avoid stain inducing foods and drinks should be avoided.
- An acrylic lab fabricated night guard may be indicated to help protect your composites
from damage due to night time clenching and grinding. This is often the case when restoring
teeth due to toothwear.
- Rare risk – any time treatment is carried out on a tooth whether it be a filling, crown,
onlay or veneer there is a small risk to the nerve. This could result in pain from the tooth
requiring root canal treatment or in worst case scenario loss of the tooth if it cannot be
saved. Whilst composite bonding is very conservative to the natural remaining tooth
structure, it has been reported that there can be a very small risk associated with this type of
NO TREATMENT – accept your teeth as they are and no treatment to be provided to improve