Dental restorations: Colour isn't the only thing responsible for a beautiful appearance
For many patients, the colour of their dental restorations determines whether or not they are happy with the result: A3, A2, A1 – or perhaps even a Bleach shade? They do not want their new teeth to look too dark or too colourful. Preferably they should be white and bright and natural-looking to boot. You are most probably familiar with this situation. However, the colour of the restoration is only one of several factors that need to be taken into consideration when aiming for amazing esthetic results. Nevertheless, in most cases the subject of colour receives the most attention.
20 million different colours
According to research done at the University of Mannheim/Germany, humans can distinguish between about 200 shades of colour. Each shade has about 500 different levels of intensity or brightness. By adjusting the white content of a colour, another 20 or so colours are produced for each shade. In total, therefore, human beings can distinguish between about 20 million colours!
Many animals can see even more colours
Even though this is quite impressive, people are by no means the champions of colour perception. In contrast to us, insects and almost all fish species as well as reptiles and birds have ultraviolet vision. As a result, they can see considerably more colours than we can.
Colour perception is frequently subjective
There is one significant aspect about colour perception: It is actually a sensation that cannot be clearly defined. Therefore, colours are perceived differently by the individual person. For example, someone who has red-green colour blindness will perceive colours differently to someone who can see red and green properly.
Shade and translucency are measurable
Nevertheless, two parameters and measurable factors, which according to experience considerably influence the way in which a patient perceives the appearance of a restoration, have been clearly identified:
- the translucent properties and
- the shade of a dental material
Translucency is an important physical property and measure. It describes the ability of a material to transmit light. The degree of light transmittance is significantly influenced by the colour and microstructure of the material and the thickness of the restoration. All these factors influence one another. Therefore, they are all responsible for the final appearance of the restoration. This is particularly the case when all-ceramics are used.
Additional influencing factor
Teeth are marvels of natural engineering. They are made up of several components, which together are responsible for their overall appearance: A dense dentin core at the centre is covered by a layer of clear enamel. The dentin and enamel components have different optical properties. Therefore, numerous additional factors influence the esthetic appearance of dental restorations, not just the colour or shade and the level of translucency:
- Brightness describes the relative lightness or darkness of a particular colour, from black to white.
- Chroma refers to the colour saturation or the quality which distinguishes strong colours from pale ones.
- Fluorescence refers to the property which makes some materials glow when they are illuminated.
- Opalescence refers to the colour of a material in relation to the incidence of light.
- The shape of the tooth should be in harmony with the facial features.
- Contouring involves the reproduction of surface characteristics such as the texture and structure of a tooth.
Skill and expertise and suitable materials are indispensable
All these factors need to be taken into consideration for a dental restoration to look natural. It goes without saying that the skill and expertise of the dental technician plays a significant role in the fabrication process. However, even the best dental technicians cannot depend on their skill and expertise alone in order to produce highly esthetic results. They also need excellent materials – for example, a suitable all-ceramic that exhibits the required optical properties.
Selecting the correct restorative material
In conclusion, restorative materials need to fulfil highly demanding and complex requirements. This is rightly so – because each esthetic restoration should be as unique and multifaceted as each individual person.
IPS e.max: a sophisticated all-ceramic system
The extensive assortment of the IPS e.max all-ceramic system offers a wide spectrum of possibilities for imitating the layers of the natural tooth structure. The system comprises a variety of all-ceramic materials including zirconium oxide and lithium disilicate glass-ceramics. As a result, it meets the requirements of many different people and diverse techniques. The diversity of the system is reflected in its broad range of coordinated components available in a wide variety of shades and translucency levels from opaque to multiple colours, including all types of ingots, blocks, discs and layering ceramics. Furthermore, characterization materials are available for adding the finishing touches to each and every esthetic restoration.
Discover the myriad of possibilities offered by IPS e.max