All Porcelain Crowns, Veneers and Bridges: Art and Technology in Dentistry
My father-in-law use to say that he was fortunate to have practiced during the “Golden Age” of dentistry where the advent of new materials and techniques had made the profession of dentistry a rewarding and satisfying career. I have to completely agree with my father-in-law that dentistry is a wonderful profession, but I have to add that today we are in the “Platinum Age” of dentistry. Today’s advancement in technology has contributed to a plethora of new materials and techniques which are better and more conservative than ever before. We are so fortunate to live during the technology boom that dentists are able to utilize many resources that were not available before. The advancement of new technology has given the dentist like me many more options, both in materials and techniques. As wonderful as the addition of new technology has given to the field of dentistry, there is the other half which is very unique to the dental profession which is the “art.” As a dentist, I am a little biased because we are not only able to recreate functional teeth but also create beautiful restorations such as porcelain crowns, veneers, and bridges. With the aid of a quality dental technician, a dentist can replace a broken down tooth that is better and more esthetically pleasing than before. However, all this new technology is useless unless the dentist has the education and the experience.
This brings me to a very important point, NOT all dentists are the same and NOT all crowns are the same. In today’s world of advertising, I do not see a day go by where some dentist says he or she is a “cosmetic” dentist. What does that mean? Well I would like to say that I have taken hundreds of hours of hands-on continuing education. There is a distinct difference between listening to someone lecture and actually getting to practice what you just heard. I am an avid proponent of hands-on continuing education. The only way for a dentist to master a learned technique is to practice, practice, and practice. And I am not talking about practicing on you! Just like in school, you have lecture, but you need to get real hands-on experience to feel comfortable and efficient.
So how and where do you get this additional education? Well, the American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry is a great place. As a sustained member of the American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry, I had the humble experience of learning from the best dentists in the world. And I mean the world. I have studied with the best cosmetic dentists from Europe, Asia, and South America. Many of them have become mentors and friends who have guided my dental journey to hone and expand my dental knowledge and skill. How great is that!
Just like a great artist or a photographer, a great dentist loves to show his or her past cases. Ask your dentist for photographs of his or her patients who had porcelain crowns, veneers, and bridges. Photographs can tell you a lot of the skill and knowledge of the dentist.
As I alluded to earlier, having the education and skill are important, but also selecting the correct material and dental laboratory are equally important. Choosing the appropriate material for the patient’s needs: function, form, and esthetic require time and finance. As the saying goes, “You get what you paid for.” Dental master ceramists who use FDA approved materials creating works of art in the USA have to be compensated for their skill and time. These quality dental laboratories are not in China or Mexico. You can not get great results: fitting well and comfortably, lasting a long time, and looking beautiful without investing some time and money. So the next time you want to compare dentists or porcelain crowns; please compare apples to apples not oranges.