If you are like most clinicians, you probably don’t like modifying the esthetics of the ceramic restorations you receive back from the technician, either because you don’t want to mess it up or you don’t know what to do. This article will discuss how easy it can be to modify surface texture and luster and the options/armamentarium needed to do it.

restorations before luster and texture
Figure 1: Original restorations

The surface texture and luster of the restoration are two of the most challenging areas for the technician to make match with the natural teeth in the mouth. I tend to see that most restorations that come back from the lab have too much texture or are too shiny. 

Both of these things are actually easy for the clinician to improve prior to cementing/bonding the restoration. I am going to use the restorations in Fig. 1 to show how the surface texture and luster can be altered with a variety of different options and what the visual outcome of each option looks like.

Lab pumice/rag wheel on a lathe

One of the simplest ways to decrease texture and reduce shine is to use lab pumice on a lathe with a wet rag wheel (slow speed, variable pressure).

lab pumice to decrease texture and reduce shine on teeth
Figure 2

This works well to subtly reduce shine and texture on the “surface” while still leaving the “deep” texture. 

reduce tooth shine and texture
Figure 3

The amount of pressure used will depend on how much you want to alter the restoration. The downside of using this technique is that its effect is generalized over the entire surface of the restoration and cannot be localized to one specific area.

White porcelain adjustment wheel


To more aggressively remove texture, a white porcelain adjustment wheel can be used (straight handpiece, slow speed, variable pressure).  

white porcelain adjustment wheel tooth restorations
Figure 4: White porcelain adjustment wheel (left), medium (center), and Dialite high shine (right)
how to take out tooth surface texture
Figure 5

This is the most aggressive way to take out surface texture and hence can be the most dangerous. The surface that is left after using the white wheel is typically too dull to be left as is and will require further polishing to enhance the surface.

Pink porcelain adjustment wheel


The pink porcelain adjustment wheel provides a more controlled way to gently reduce the surface texture and does a nice job at creating a high “luster” for the restoration (straight handpiece, slow speed, variable pressure).

how to create a high luster for dental restorations
Figure 6

The type of surface that is left with the pink adjustment wheel is wonderful when trying to match the surface of a patient that has had a history of erosion. 

pink adjustment wheel for dental restorations
Figure 7: Initial photos of a patient with a history of erosion. The teeth have a high luster and lack surface texture.
pink porcelain adjustment wheel luster texture
Figure 8: Definitive restorations on the central incisors matching the surface texture and luster

Increasing the shine of your restorations

I find the two best ways to increase the shine (on the original restoration or after you have modified the surface texture) is to use either the grey fine Dialite wheel with the yellow center from Brasseler (Fig. 4) or diamond polishing paste and a Robinson brush.

tooth diamond polishing paste and robinson brush

Both of these options can do a nice job of increasing the surface shine.  The difference between them is that the traditional Dialite wheel will also have a small impact on decreasing texture (unless the new Dialite Feather Lite wheels are used) while the polishing paste only increases shine without decreasing texture.  

polishing paste to increase shine decrease texture of restorations
Figure 10

I am fortunate to have had the opportunity to work with and to continue to work with some very talented technicians.  That being said, it is rare that I don’t do something to the restoration during try-in to enhance the esthetics.   

Remember, if you don’t know what the outcome of the polishing agent will do to the restoration, it is always safer to practice on an old restoration rather than the one you’re hoping to seat.

Gregg Kinzer, D.D.S., M.S., Spear Faculty and Contributing Author

(Click this link for more dentistry articles by Dr. Gregg Kinzer.)