We all know how important it is to provide excellent temporaries or provisionals for our patients. From testing proposed changes to impressing excellent provisionals, these are necessary components for providing optimal care for our patients. While there are many ways to develop excellent form, fit and function for our provisionals, my focus here is on the finish—the icing on the cake.

The most common way to develop an appropriate finish on our provisionals is to polish them. As we all know there are many systems we can use to achieve our desired outcome; however, polishing alone leaves you with monochromatic provisionals (above).

In some cases monochromatic provisonals are fine, but for many they just don't look right. The simplest solution is to stain and glaze your provisionals. My favorite product for this process is the Enamic Stain and Glaze Kit from Vita. While not specifically developed for provisionals this kit works wonderfully on them. The downside is it requires a significant initial investment. However, it will give you everything you need other than a light curing oven and it lasts a long time. You could also put your own kit together by using a dry-powder porcelain stain and a light cure varnish such as Palaseal.

While use of the kit is pictured here, using powdered porcelain stains and a varnish like Palaseal is very similar except that you use the varnish to mix your stains and glaze the restoration. After assuring you have a clean restoration surface the first step is to wet any of the areas you are going to characterize with stain liquid.

The purpose of this is to wet the surface and help the stains "melt" when you apply them.

Following this, pick up some of your stain and apply a very small amount to the areas you want to characterize. I can't emphasize enough that you don't need much color in most cases. When painting on your colors remember that you want to see the effect of the color but not the color itself. While the use of browns and oranges are pretty evident, the use of blue in incisal edges and cusp tips can be used to simulate translucency, and the use of white on cuspal inclines can add the illusion of depth.

Once this is done simply tack-cure your stains then apply the glaze.

When curing the glaze, especially for multiple units I find a light curing oven works best.

When curing is complete you'll be left with an esthetic highly glazed restoration which may be too glossy. If it is, you can simply lightly run a light high-shine polisher over the surface to alter the gloss level as needed.

While the restoration has minimal characterization, there are many times when much heavier characterization is needed. The benefits of taking the time to do this are much clearer in this case.

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