4 Subtle Aspects of Tooth Appearance That Challenge Cosmetic Dentists

If you are looking for the best cosmetic dentistry, you need to choose your dentist carefully. One of the most important parts of this process is appraising a dentist’s before and after images so you can get a better idea about the quality of their work.

What are you looking for in these images? First, you should appraise the work in terms of its overall effect. If you look at the smiles and think they look attractive, that’s a great start. But if you are really looking for a quality cosmetic dentist, appraise some specific aspects of dental crowns and porcelain veneers that can really separate the best from the rest.


Symmetry is one of the most central aspects of beauty. A face, a body, or a smile has to look the same on either side of a central line. Make sure a dentist’s work achieves this. A restored tooth should look similar to the matching tooth on the other side. Not exactly identical, mind you. A perfect mirror image is slightly disturbing to the brain. So it should look similar but not exactly identical to its match on the other side. This is most challenging, of course, when it’s two teeth right next to each other that have to match.

Color Gradient

Teeth aren’t always all one color. They often transition from one color at the gum line to a different color at the incisal edge. This is especially true of incisors, the flat teeth at the front of your mouth. This can be hard to reproduce when the restorations are made as a single piece and therefore present a uniform appearance.

But a good cosmetic dentist can match this color gradient, either by working in-house with customization tools, or by communicating the subtleties of gradient properly to the dental lab.


Dental enamel lets a certain amount of light through it. Dental ceramics do, too. But every person’s enamel is a little bit different in translucency. There are many different ceramic materials that have different translucencies, so it’s possible to match almost any degree of translucency in natural teeth.

But a cosmetic dentist has to understand all the options and be able to choose the optimal material for each person’s natural enamel. Most often, they may err on the side of too opaque and not translucent enough.


Intaglio is a concept you may never hear discussed by your cosmetic dentist, even if they’re paying attention to it. But it’s one you might want to look for if you’re looking for an optimal match.

Intaglio is a term that comes from printing, where the pattern to be printed is carved as recessed grooves into a metal plate. Ink is spread on the plate, then wiped away, leaving ink only in the grooves. Paper is pressed to this to print the pattern.

In cosmetic dentistry, intaglio refers to the quality that natural teeth acquire over time, the tiny pitting and uneven staining that teeth develop with age, erosion, and wear. Restorations generally don’t have this–they are usually smooth–unless the dentist specifically creates it. Failure to add this subtle feature can lead to restorations that look too smooth, or just don’t seem to match the color, even if they’re technically the right shade.

Attention to Detail

If you’re looking for a skilled cosmetic dentist in Las Vegas, please call (702) 873-0324 for an appointment at the office of Dr. James B. Polley. We have the capability of making crowns and other restorations in house, and customizing them to ensure a precise match in their appearance. You’ll be surprised and impressed at how lifelike our results can be.