The Challenge of a Great Dental Ceramic Technician


A dental patient comes in and wants a perfect smile. Patients can have porcelain veneers or crowns for a beautiful makeover. However, not all patients have the wherewithal to pay for that service, or maybe they just want one or two teeth to blend well with the other teeth.

A full makeover is in many ways easier to do from an esthetic point of view. Perhaps the most challenging cosmetic task is to match one of the central incisors (one of the two front teeth) to the other when one stands out.


If you are thinking about investing in cosmetic dentistry, it’s wise to take the time to understand some of the fundamentals:


I want to define some terms when talking about tooth shading. These definitions come from

Opaque: impenetrable by light, neither transparent or translucent

Transparent: capable of transmitting light so that objects or images can be seen as if there were no intervening material

Translucent: transmitting light but causing sufficient diffusion to prevent perception of distinct image; semitransparent

Iridescent: the state or condition of being colored like a rainbow or like the light shining through a prism

Opalescent : having the quality of being opal like or milkily iridescent

How do these terms apply to making a porcelain tooth?


So when you look at a tooth you can see the color or shade of it. When you look more carefully you can pick up the different colors that occur in the tooth. The body of the tooth is rather opaque, and this will vary from tooth to tooth and person to person.   Usually the gumline area is yellower than the body. But when you get to the biting area of the tooth it will exhibit some level of translucency which appears a bit gray. Then to further complicate the task, there are areas of opalescence with a touch of color in different parts of the tooth. A technician must be top drawer to replicate this. He accomplishes this with colored stains which provide the hint of that color or colors which might be present in the contralateral tooth (the same tooth on the other side of the arch).

How does a dentist judge success?

The ultimate success is having a close up slide taken which is then presented to a room full of dentists at a course, and no one can tell which is the real one and which is the crown.

When doing a makeover of 6 or more teeth, patients usually want 1 color, some level of white. The dentists want to make everything to look more like natural teeth and still as white as can be while still looking real. It’s difficult to get that result that makes all happy!