When your specific dental concerns happen to be both mild and strictly cosmetic, you already know that treatment is optional. When a tooth has deteriorated to the point that intervention is needed to save it, or that it interferes with your bite, then it's a clinical, and therefore more serious matter.

This isn't to suggest that cosmetic concerns are unimportant, but these issues are usually dealt with by concealment—effectively hiding the cosmetic issue beneath a comprehensive restoration, such as a dental veneer or crown. But what happens when dental veneers or crowns are more than you can afford? 

Affordable Alternative 

Have you heard of dental bonding? This is an affordable alternative to many other types of cosmetic dental treatment. It's a common procedure, and your existing dentist office is likely to offer it. Clearly, some types of dental concerns (even issues that are entirely cosmetic) may require a specific type of treatment, because intricate dental issues can't be corrected with a one-size-fits-all attitude. That being said, many cosmetic issues can be quickly and inexpensively addressed with dental bonding.

Composite Resin

When you have a cavity, your dentist will fill it with a composite dental resin. This resin is chosen to be an exact match for the color of your teeth, so once the cavity is patched, it will blend seamlessly into the surrounding dental enamel. Dental bonding uses the same resin but in an expanded way. 

The Bonding Process

Whether the tooth is slightly misshapen or discolored, dental bonding can be a viable option. The tooth's surface enamel is treated with a mildly acidic etching solution. This allows the composite resin to permanently bond to the tooth. The resin is then applied to the surface of the tooth, and your dentist sculpts it as needed—whether keeping to the existing contours of the tooth (such as when covering discoloration) or by reshaping the tooth to new, improved dimensions (such as when the tooth was misshapen). 

Finishing Your Restorations

Once the composite resin has been applied and sculpted, your dentist will use a curing light so that the resin sets immediately. This is actually a major advantage that dental bonding has other types of restoration work—the results are instant. Caring for your bonded teeth isn't complicated, and all you need to do is brush them along with the rest of your teeth. Expect to need touch-ups to your bonding every five to ten years.

So if you thought restoring your teeth and significantly improving their appearance was well out of your price range, you might want to talk to your dentist about dental bonding.