The Difference between Dental Bonding and Fillings

When it comes to dental treatments, two commonly used procedures are dental bonding and dental fillings. While they both serve the purpose of restoring teeth, there are significant differences between the two. We will explore the distinctions, benefits, and applications of dental bonding and fillings, helping you make an informed decision about which option suits your dental needs best.

What is Dental Bonding?

Dental bonding is a cosmetic dentistry procedure that involves applying a tooth-colored resin material to the surface of a tooth and then bonding it in place using a special light. It is a versatile and straightforward procedure that can address various dental issues, such as chipped teeth, small gaps, discoloration, and minor cavities.

During the bonding process, the dentist will first select a resin color that matches your natural tooth shade. Then, the tooth’s surface will be etched, and a conditioning liquid is applied to ensure the bonding material adheres properly. The resin is then carefully applied and molded to the desired shape before being hardened with the light. Once set, the dentist will trim, shape, and polish the bonded material to blend seamlessly with the rest of your teeth.

What are Dental Fillings?

Dental fillings, on the other hand, are primarily used to treat cavities caused by tooth decay. They involve the removal of decayed tooth material and the filling of the resulting space with various materials like amalgam, composite, gold, or porcelain.

The type of filling material used may vary depending on factors such as the location of the cavity, the extent of the decay, and the patient’s preferences. Traditional amalgam fillings, made from a combination of metals, are known for their durability but are less aesthetically pleasing. Composite fillings, made from a mixture of plastic and fine glass particles, are tooth-colored and blend in naturally but may not be as long-lasting as amalgam.

Comparison between Dental Bonding and Fillings

When considering dental bonding versus fillings, several key factors come into play:

  1. Material Used: Dental bonding uses a tooth-colored resin that matches the natural shade of your teeth, ensuring a seamless blend. Dental fillings, especially amalgam fillings, stand out as they are silver in color.
  2. Durability: Dental fillings, especially amalgam, tend to be more durable and can withstand considerable biting force. Dental bonding, while strong, may not be as robust and may require periodic touch-ups.
  3. Aesthetics: As mentioned earlier, dental bonding provides superior aesthetics since the material matches your teeth. Dental fillings, particularly amalgam, are more noticeable, making them less appealing for front teeth.
  4. Cost: Dental bonding is generally less expensive than dental fillings, particularly the composite ones, which can be more costly due to the material’s aesthetics.
  5. Procedure Complexity: Dental fillings often require the removal of more tooth structure to accommodate the filling material. Bonding, being a less invasive procedure, preserves more natural tooth structure.

When is Dental Bonding Preferred?

Dental bonding is an excellent choice for addressing minor cosmetic issues and minor cavities. It is preferred in the following situations:

  • Repairing chipped or cracked teeth
  • Closing small gaps between teeth
  • Concealing discolored teeth
  • Filling small cavities
  • Changing the shape or length of teeth

However, dental bonding may not be suitable for extensive cavities or areas subjected to significant biting forces, such as molars.

When are Dental Fillings Preferred?

Dental fillings are primarily used for treating cavities and restoring damaged teeth due to decay. They are preferred in the following situations:

  • Treating moderate to large cavities
  • Restoring teeth with significant decay
  • Repairing broken or damaged teeth
  • Reinforcing teeth subjected to heavy chewing load

Pros and Cons of Dental Bonding


  • Quick and straightforward procedure
  • Relatively inexpensive
  • Matches natural tooth color
  • Requires minimal removal of tooth structure


  • Not as durable as fillings, may require touch-ups
  • May not be suitable for extensive cavities or heavily loaded teeth
  • Stains and discoloration may occur over time

Pros and Cons of Dental Fillings


  • High durability, especially amalgam fillings
  • Suitable for moderate to large cavities and heavily loaded teeth
  • Less prone to staining and discoloration


  • More expensive, especially composite fillings
  • Less aesthetically pleasing, particularly amalgam fillings
  • Involves more tooth structure removal during the process

Which Option is Best for You?

The choice between dental bonding and fillings depends on the specific dental issue you are facing and your aesthetic preferences. Consulting with a qualified dentist is essential to determine the best option for your unique needs. For minor cosmetic concerns or small cavities, dental bonding may provide an effective and aesthetically pleasing solution. On the other hand, for moderate to large cavities or areas subjected to heavy chewing, dental fillings, especially amalgam ones, may be a better fit.

Both dental bonding and dental fillings are essential dental procedures that serve different purposes. Dental bonding is a cosmetic solution used to address minor dental imperfections and small cavities while maintaining aesthetics. Dental fillings, on the other hand, are primarily used to treat cavities caused by tooth decay and restore damaged teeth. When considering which option is best for you, it’s crucial to consult with a dentist who can assess your dental needs and recommend the most suitable treatment plan. Whether you opt for dental bonding or fillings, the goal is to achieve a healthy and beautiful smile that boosts your confidence and overall oral health.


What is the cost difference between dental bonding and fillings?

The cost of dental bonding is generally lower than that of dental fillings, especially composite fillings. However, the exact cost may vary depending on the dentist’s location and the extent of the procedure.

Can dental bonding be used for large cavities?

Dental bonding is more suitable for small to moderate-sized cavities. For larger cavities, dental fillings, particularly amalgam or composite ones, are a better option.

Are dental fillings painful?

The process of getting dental fillings is usually painless, as local anesthesia is used to numb the area. Some patients may experience mild sensitivity or discomfort after the procedure, but this typically subsides quickly.

How long does dental bonding last?

Dental bonding can last anywhere from 3 to 10 years, depending on factors like oral hygiene practices, biting forces, and the location of the bonding.

Can I get dental bonding or fillings for cosmetic purposes only?

Yes, both dental bonding and fillings can be used for cosmetic purposes. Dental bonding is particularly popular for minor cosmetic improvements, such as closing small gaps or repairing chipped teeth, while tooth-colored fillings can improve the appearance of damaged or discolored teeth.

Are dental fillings noticeable? 

The visibility of dental fillings depends on the material used. Tooth-colored fillings are less noticeable compared to silver amalgam fillings.

Can dental bonding be used to fix large cavities?

Dental bonding is best suited for minor repairs and cosmetic enhancements. For larger cavities, dental fillings or other restorative options may be more appropriate.

Can dental fillings fall out?

Dental fillings can become loose or fall out if not properly cared for. Regular dental check-ups can help detect and address any issues with fillings early on.