The Art of a Veneer
Many dentists will tell you that one of the more difficult procedures in all of restorative dentistry is restoring one single tooth. Here at Hardin Advanced Dentistry, we welcome the challenge. What many don’t realize however is we can only be as good as the lab we choose. Who exactly is designing the glass-like restorations in your mouth? Are they outsourced from a factory-like production mill, or are they handmade by a skilled artist or ceramist? Does the lab technician make chiclet-looking teeth or are they subtle, nuanced, and mistakable for a natural tooth?
The saying, “A dentist is a dentist,” cannot be more untrue. Drs. Tara and Dane at Hardin Advanced Dentistry spend countless hours of continuing education mastering the craft of esthetic dentistry. Dr. Tara has received accolades that fewer than 100 in the world have achieved. Much can be said about which lab the dentist chooses to work with. Which restoration do you have in your mouth? Or better yet, which restoration do you want in your mouth?
Let’s delve into a specific case where the patient didn’t like her dark, undersized tooth (Figure 1).
After many photos to communicate with the lab, the lab-made us a couple of restorations because oftentimes these take 5 or 6 attempts to get exactly right (Figure 2).
After sending back to hone in on some details, such as better matching the color, and fine-tuning the characterizations of luster and surface finish, we had a product that was deemed worthy of putting into the patient’s mouth. She would have been thrilled with the prior attempt (Figure 3), but we knew that the shape and color could improve.
So what exactly goes into the process? Much labor, but a labor of love for the lab side of things. Powders are mixed with water (Figure 4), painted on to make a tooth, and baked in a hot oven (Figure 5).
A few layers and bakes are often necessary (Figure 6) or else the porcelain will look like a white, opaque toilet bowl.
Once the baking is over (Figure 7), the veneer is ready for the lab’s finishing touches which will include hand finishing, staining if necessary, and glazing (Figure 8).
The thickness of the finished veneer is mere tenths of a millimeter and resembles a contact lens (Figure 9)!
The final veneer is in place, flawlessly transitioning from one natural tooth to the next (Figure 10) (Figure 11).
Thanks to Peter Pizzi for the beautiful ceramics!