When was the last time you thought about the texture of your restorations? While we often think of getting the right shade or color when we're trying to get our restorations to blend in with the surrounding dentition or restorations, we must also think of texture if our desire is the best possible blend.

The reason texture is so critical is it effects the way the light reflects off the teeth and it influences our perception of the restoration. This means we must get the texture of restorations correct.

Understandably every tooth is different; however, if you look closely you should be able to identify a trend for each patient. Additionally, the texture of teeth change over time.

This is of course dependent upon the oral environment. The change in texture is not only caused by what is ingested, but also by conditions like acid reflux or purging.

When it comes to evaluating texture I find it helpful to evaluate it under different magnifications, angles and lighting conditions. I do find that magnification with plenty of light is generally the most helpful. While I'm a big fan of using light, too much intensity can be detrimental when looking at texture. Think of it like a photograph where you need the right exposure; too much or too little and you will lose image quality.

When you are performing indirect restorations, high-resolution photographs taken at different angles are critical, as the different angles will allow the flash to reflect off the surface differently and provide valuable information for your ceramist.

Take for example the central incisor pictured here, which I imaged through my microscope. As you can see it has significant surface texture. In a case like this I like to add the little wavy horizontal grooves in with a fine-tipped bur. It is important to remember once you have added your texture that while you want a final surface that is well polished, it is critical that you don't over-polish the surface and remove the needed surface texture. While getting the texture just right can take some time, I think you'll find it well worth the effort. Getting the right texture will take your restorations to the next level.

John R. Carson, DDS, PC, Spear Visiting Faculty. [ www.johnrcarsondds.com ]