July 16, 2018

Surface Texture

The amount of surface texture placed on porcelain crowns or porcelain crowns is a subtle but very important issue the will effect how the teeth feel to the lips and tongue and how they will look.

surface texture will determine the amount of light reflected off of the teeth

Nine porcelain veneers were created for Jennifer, who was the winner of the Mrs. California-Globe beauty pageant. Note the way the light reflects off of her porcelain veneers. She chose a very light color (BL1) and slight surface texture. The result was a very beautiful and natural looking smile.

surface texture on surface of the porcelain crown

Andrew is a 20 year old who broke one of his front two teeth in half, which we replaced with an all-ceramic non-metal crown (can you tell which one?). A single front tooth replacement is one of the most challenging esthetic treatment a dentist faces. Not only was it necessary to match the color and shape of the other front tooth, but matching the surface texture was also very important. If Andrew were older he would have lost much of his natural surface texture, and thus we wouldn't have placed as much in his new crown.

surface texture of older tooth

Over the years older teeth generally lose enamel thickness and shortened with wear. This loss of enamel does two things to influence the way the tooth appears. First the enamel allows more of the darker underlying dentin (root) to show through, and second the natural surface texture is lost, resulting in an extremely smooth and reflective surface. This loss of surface texture is a major characteristic of an "older" tooth.

A natural tooth that is not worn has surface texture, as you will note in almost any teenager that you might see.  As people age the teeth are effected by wear, abrasive tooth paste, acids and carbonated sodas, and the surface enamel thins and in the process the tooth loses its surface texture.  The results of a thinner tooth is less white enamel covering a darkening underlying root, thus the tooth appears darker.  Another esthetic issue is how light reflects off of the surface of the tooth, giving a much different reflective pattern of light on older teeth than  younger teeth.

Thus, the subject how much, if any, surface texture the patient wants in his/her porcelain veneers or porcelain crowns, should be discuss between the patient and cosmetic dentist.  Typically if the patients wants a “younger looking smile”, then some surface texture, slight or moderate, is part of that formula.  However too much surface texture is something that most patients object to, a complaint is that their worn teeth before cosmetic dentistry was extremely smooth (from all the abrasion and attrition) and now with a lot of surface texture “they feel rough” .  Thus it is incumbent on the cosmetic dentist to choose the best amount of surface texture for the patient’s new porcelain veneers or porcelain crowns.

An important fact we’ve noted over the years when patients are requesting both “white” and “natural looking” veneers or crowns, is that shades whiter than B1 (the whitest natural shade) can still look very natural IF there is at least some slight surface texture incorporated on the veneers or crowns.  Cases where patients have gone very white (BL1 or BL2) and have no surface texture (i.e. a completely smooth light reflective component) is that there is a subtle appearance that doesn’t look “real” or “natural”.

Dr. Norman Huefner, Orange County Cosmetic Dentistry and Porcelain Veneers. Serving the surrounding cities of Laguna Niguel, Irvine, Newport Beach, Mission Viejo and Rancho Santa Margarita
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