Bonding is a process in which an enamel-like dental composite material is applied to a tooth's surface, sculpted into shape, hardened and then polished.
Adhesive dentistry is a branch of dentistry which mainly deals with adhesion or bonding of the adhesive material or cements to the natural substance of teeth, enamel and dentin.
Dental bonding is a dental procedure in which a dentist applies a tooth-colored resin material (a durable plastic material) and hardens it with a special light. This ultimately "bonds" the material to the tooth and improves the overall appearance of teeth.
Tooth bonding techniques have various clinical applications including operative dentistry and preventive dentistry as well as cosmetic and pediatric dentistry, prosthodontics, and orthodontics.
Irwin Smigel founder and current president of the American Society for Dental Aesthetics and diplomat of the American Board of Aesthetic Dentistry, was one of the first to broaden the usage of bonding by using it to close gaps between teeth, lengthen teeth as well as to re-contour the entire mouth rather than using crowns. Having done the most extensive work on the process than any other dentist, Dr. Smigel lectures world-wide on aesthetic dentistry. IN 1979 he published a guide to aesthetic dentistry entitled "Dental Health/Dental Beauty."
As a modern science, adhesive dentistry studies the nature and strength of the adhesion to dental hard tissues, properties of adhesive materials, causes and mechanisms of failure of the bonds, clinical techniques for bonding and newer applications for bonding such as bonding to the soft tissue.
There's also direct composite bonding which uses tooth-colored direct dental composites to repair various tooth damages such as cracks or gaps.