The esthetic services that are offered to dental patients often entail indirect restorations fabricated in dental laboratories by technicians who never see these patients in the operatory. The successful outcome of such treatment is dependent in large part on how closely the shades of adjacent natural teeth are matched by the indirect restorations involved. This clinical information, referenced to the Munsell color system, can be difficult to convey accurately to a remote laboratory. There are many systems in the dental marketplace and techniques available to assist the restorative dentist and the dental laboratory with these issues.
Ideally, dental technicians would perfect the final shades of these cases through direct visual inspection, yet only a small percentage of all restorative dentists have an in-house laboratory to do this. I am not one of them. Communicating shade information to a remote dental laboratory using a single tab is rarely accurate and, considering the vitality of the newer crown and bridge materials available today, represents substandard practice. Shade mapping, use of these newer materials and digital matching systems along with adjunctive photography, can significantly increase the precision with which lifelike results are achieved while patient expectations are ultimately met. Using these systems along with my digital camera has allowed me to confidently place restorations in the esthetic zone that harmoniously blend in with their surrounding natural dentition.
After this course, the attendee should be able to:
- Identify the latest crown and bridge materials now available on the market that exhibit heightened esthetic properties.
- Describe the Munsell color system and how to relate its different parameters to clinical shade matching situations.
- Discuss the importance of shade mapping with multiple tabs and how digital matching systems do this electronically.
- Explain the importance of adjunctive photography with digital shade matching to capture unique characterizations.