How Is Tooth Color Determined in Composite Tooth Restorations?
It takes a great deal of skill, experience, talent and artistry to create dental restorations that look so natural that no one can distinguish them from the original.
To do this, it is necessary to understand the normal anatomy of a tooth as well as the interactions of light, and color.
How Does Tooth Anatomy Determine Color?
The color we perceive when we look at a tooth is due to the combined appearance of the tooth’s central core (the dentin layer) and the enamel that covers it. Tooth enamel is made of calcium crystals, which on the outside causes it to be one of the hardest naturally produced substances. The crystals are also responsible for the shine and translucency of the tooth. Dentin is a porous living tissue that is more like bone, consisting of microscopic tubes and interspersed with more calcium crystals. At the very center of the tooth is a central chamber containing the pulp and nerves.
Each of these layers has its own physical and optical properties. Because enamel is translucent and dentin is more opaque, most tooth color comes from dentin and is transmitted through the enamel layer. Factors influencing this transfer include the thickness and age of tooth enamel and external tooth whitening.
If the enamel is more transparent, the color of the dentin is more visible. If it’s more opaque, the enamel absorbs and reflects light, so less color is visible and it’s brighter.
The Language of Color Composition and Reflected Light
Color: means the entire spectrum in the rainbow. The spectrum consists of three primary colors. Red, blue and green. When they all come together, they create white light.
Hue: It refers to the brightest forms of colors. The color we perceive depends on the dominant wavelength of light reflected by an object.
Value: Refers to the lightness or darkness of a color. A brighter color has a higher value.
Chroma: The amount of identifiable hue in a color. An achromatic color (without hue) appears gray.
Saturation: A measure of the intensity of a color.
This color terminology is used not only by dentists and dental technicians, but also by a wide variety of artists. It means expertise and understanding of how colors work, how they change and affect each other.