How much is a picture worth?

Dental Digital Photography

We all know the answer to this question based on the old adage..."a picture is worth a thousand words."  When it comes to restorative and esthetic dentistry, a picture is worth much, much more. Years ago in dentistry, crowns were matched based on a simple plastic tooth shaped shade (color) guide. The same method was used when matching tooth colored fillings to teeth.  Over the years, dental porcelain and tooth colored filling materials have become more and more beautiful and high-tech. These advances allow us to create dental restorations that truly mimic natural teeth. We have come to discover that the easiest and most predictable way to record the color, shape, and texture of teeth is through the use of high-quality digital photographs.

Photography in dentistry is certainly nothing new. For years, many dentists have been documenting their work with slide photography and prints; but digital photography has revolutionized dentistry much in the same way it has transformed our ability to capture life’s special moments with our families and friends. We now have the ability to email and share photos with an out-of-state laboratory ceramist , the person who actually makes the crowns or veneers. This collaboration is critical to meeting a patient’s expectations and in producing a dynamic and natural smile. An excellent indicator of the quality of “cosmetic” work in a dental office is the quality of the photography. Before and after photos should be crisp and detailed. Viewing similar cases that the office has completed should give the patient a good idea of what to expect with his or her own teeth, whether it involves a single crown, a filling, or the entire smile.

Communication is key, whether it is a patient communicating with a dental team member or the dental team communicating with the lab ceramist. Digital photography is vital to this communication process and is certainly something we could not do without at Palmetto Dental Associates! The more information that can be exchanged, the better and more predictable the results will be. And of course, when everyone is happy, smiling for the photos is a snap!

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What's that dark line at the gum line of my crown (or "cap")?

All Ceramic Dental Crowns / Veneers

This is a question that we hear frequently in our office during our new patient exams.  It’s a great question, so let’s shed some light on the topic.  The majority of the crowns (or "caps") that have been fabricated worldwide are of the “porcelain bonded to metal" variety.  What that means is that there is a metal substructure that fits over the prepared tooth upon which porcelain is layered to make it look like a tooth.  Many times this metal and porcelain junction can result in a black line at the base of the crown, where it had initially been tucked slightly under the gums.  If any gum recession occurs, the patient may then see the black metal line.

 
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While the porcelain fused to metal crown is still a very durable, long lasting restoration (and can be fabricated in a method that doesn’t show the “black line”), we now have new materials available to us that allow for crowns to be made with absolutely no metal at all.  Is this a brand-new concept?  No, it is not.  We have been making metal-free crowns and veneers for many years.  Unfortunately, in past times we have had to sacrifice strength in order to gain the esthetic benefit of a metal free crown.  With the advent of materials like porcelain bonded to zirconia, and even more recently, a highly esthetic porcelain called Emax, we are able to achieve the ultimate in esthetics without sacrificing strength.  

With the advent of these new materials and by using truly artistic master ceramists to fabricate our crowns, no longer do we have to make crowns that look like crowns.  Instead, we now can fabricate crowns that look like, well... beautiful, natural, healthy teeth!