How Will Your Cosmetic Dentist Choose The Right Composite Color?

If you're going to a cosmetic dentist to have a chipped tooth repaired, your dentist will likely bond composite resin to your tooth. But how does your dentist know which composite color will best match your tooth? Here are just a few things your dentist will do to find the composite that best matches your natural teeth.

Check Undertones and Hue Values

Most dentists use a shade guide, a prop that displays 16 shades of composite material. If your dentist just put a stark white composite on your tooth, it would look very fake. Enamel is translucent and has other colors as undertones. Most shade guides can be divided into four categories:

  • Those with reddish-brownish undertones

  • Those with yellow undertones

  • Those with gray undertones

  • Those with reddish-gray undertones

Once your dentist has assessed the undertone of your teeth, hr or she will then look at value—or the range of lightness or darkness within a color. The dentist will hold the shade guide up to the your mouth, then move left to right to find the right composite hue.

Use a Durable Shade Guide

Shade guides are always cleaned and disinfected. This practice is vital since it prevents pathogens from spreading in the office. In the past, however, disinfecting practices could change the consistency of the shade guide. However, DentistryIQ says that shade guides today are incredibly durable and can actually be cleaned in autoclaves. This means that the shade guide will not only be disinfected, but will have the best-looking composite samples to match to your teeth.

Remove Strong Hues

If you wear makeup, like lipstick, your dentist will likely have you wipe it off. Your dentist may also cover up any bright clothing with a dental apron. The purpose of these practices is to neutralize the colors in the room.

Your brain is continually having to process different factors to assess the true color of an object. If you've studied color theory, you know that two swatches with the same exact color can look completely different if they are laid on different backgrounds. In short, strong colors in your cosmetics or on your clothing can make your natural tooth shades look different. Your dentist will try to neutralize strong colors so that the composite samples on the guide match the true hue of your teeth.

Use Natural Light

Similar to how colors can affect one another, light sources can also affect the value of shade guides. Your dentist will likely open a window in the office so that natural light flows in. If the office has no window, then the dentist will likely use the shade guide with lights that mimic natural lighting. Your dentist will avoid incandescent bulbs, as these can add a yellow tinge to the shade guide.

As you can see, there is a lot that goes into choosing the right shade for your bonding material. However, a cosmetic dentist will make sure that all of the conditions are correct so that you can get the best match.

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