Dentists love seeing patients leave their offices with a smile of satisfaction on their faces. When leaving their dentist’s office with teeth that have recently undergone cosmetic treatment, their pride is doubly so. While the patient may only be thinking of the absent blemishes and the beautiful new smile, their dentist is considering their artistry. Once you go beyond simple whitening procedures, every cosmetic dentistry procedure is as much art as it is science and medical treatment. One of the vital steps in the process of creating a new smile is ensuring that the results look natural and fit in with the patient’s overall look. During this step, the most important choice being made is the right shade for the resulting teeth.
The Subtle Art of Selecting The Perfect Shade
In the process of selecting a new shade, your dentist has to consider a broad range of variables that are generally out of the control of patients and dentists alike. One variable, of course, is the results the patient desires to see, along with what may be reasonably achievable by the treatment. This selection process is high-stakes and can involve significant costs to the patient, the lab, and the dentist. The results have the likelihood of impacting more than just the patient’s appearance; they also can affect their confidence, their career opportunities, even their social life. An incorrectly chosen shade stands out like a sore thumb and can make a patient’s face appear wrong or even comical. When choosing a shade, the dentist has to consider the:
- Material being used
- Shade of the patient’s skin
- Color of their gums
- Color of their natural teeth
- Eye color
- Hair color
While the last is obviously subject to change in patients who choose to dye or are going gray, it’s still necessary to bring into the overall picture. Shade is a combination of elements that come together to create a single color and includes the attributes of hue, chroma, value, and saturation. Each of these components is part of the complex color theory that determines how the colors we see are created. An understanding of these elements is necessary to match your appearance with the perfect shade for your teeth.
How Is Shade Matching Accomplished Today?
As you might imagine, not every dentist who performs cosmetic treatments is also an accomplished master of color theory. Thankfully the industry has produced a few tools to help guide the dentist in selecting your perfect shade, though a sense of artistry is still required the get the best results. Among these tools can be found:
- Shade Tabs: This process involves the use of a selection of numbered tabs, each a different shade. When the patient’s tooth color is matched to a tab, the dentist writes the number down and sends it to the lab.
- Photographs and Imaging: A more modern technique involves the use of digital imaging and photography to get the shade and shape of your tooth right. Combining this technique with shade tabs can get even closer to the best color.
If you want to explore more about how your dentist works to create the most beautiful cosmetic restorations for your smile, call them for a consultation today!