In prosthetic dentistry, the term dental adhesive refers to a modern method for permanently attaching a denture to a tooth. Ceramic or composite inlays, on-lays, or veneers, are glued to the patient’s natural tooth to form a firm, with it. The word adhesive comes from the Latin word adhaerere which means to stick, which is, of course, where the term ‘adhesive technology’ comes from in dentistry.

What are the advantages of attaching dentures by this adhesive technique?

Adhesive technology opens up many exciting possibilities in dentistry, particularly as regards aesthetic aspects. Crowns or bridges were previously anchored to the tooth with the help of mechanical retentions, called cementing. The adhesive bonding technique preserves more of the healthy tooth as it has to be ground down much less to have ceramic restoration fixed to the tooth.

More delicate restoration work can be done and securely bonded to the tooth using the adhesive technique. Veneers can be made wafer-thin and yet be permanently glued to the tooth in order to correct small tooth misalignments. Often the dentist has to grind nothing, or very little, of the surface from the natural tooth. A slight roughening of the tooth’s enamel is often all that is needed. In technical terms, this is referred to as a non- or just minimally invasive procedure.

By using this adhesive technology, ceramic inlays can also be permanently bonded to the tooth. This results in a very pleasing look aesthetically, because these inlays hardly differ very little from healthy teeth.

How does this adhesive bond between the tooth and the dental restoration work?

In a nutshell, this adhesive technology is based on the combination of a micro-mechanical and a chemical bond. First the dentist roughens the tooth enamel by applying a special acid to the tooth. Then a low-viscosity adhesive is rubbed into the tooth and cured with a light-curing device. This part of the process is referred to as polymerisation.

In the next step the ceramic restoration is also prepared for bonding; this is called conditioning. Finally a very thin layer of a high-quality adhesive glue is used to ensure a strong bond between the tooth and the denture.