The Benefits of Fluorescent Stain
Distributing light in small spaces boosts esthetics
Peter Pizzi, MDT, CDT
With the multitude of material options today and the focus on esthetics, the optical properties of the materials we use are often overlooked. Understanding the varying abilities of materials to reflect, refract, and absorb the light wave is necessary to maximize esthetics. Knowing the limitations and abilities of the materials we use is critical in our being able to produce exceptional results. Although there are many uses for fluorescent materials, the focus here is how to use them to aide in the distribution of light in small spaces. When extending a substructure or a natural preparation, the common material we go to is usually an opacious dentin. Obviously, it has higher opacity measure than the normal base dentins we use, but its impenetrability to light is also based on how thickly we layer the material. In very thin areas or areas transitioning to almost nothing, even our opacious materials sometimes need a little boost to support that decrease in material thickness.
Although most internal stains claim to be fluorescent, the use of an ultraviolet/"black" light will show you which ones truly are and which have the highest levels of fluorescence (Figure 1). Mixing a small amount of fluorescent stain into the opacious dentin (5% to 10 % stain) allows technicians the ability to manipulate the wave of light. This newly mixed material has the ability to reflect, refract, and absorb light in small spaces as natural teeth do. This is the material of choice when lengthening a tooth with minimal space (Figure 2 and Figure 3). This opaque yet fluorescent mix is used to extend the preparation length and can seem very thin from an incisal view (Figure 4 and Figure 5). Normal build-up can begin once the material mix is placed and the optics have been managed (Figure 6). When the restorations are complete, backlighting shows us that no transition line is present and that the reconstructed tooth reacts to light like a natural tooth would. (Figure 7 and Figure 8). Although the cast pictures are helpful in order to see the light and effect, in the end what always matters the most is the ability of our materials to harmonize within the mouth (Figure 9 and Figure 10). Fluorescent stains have many abilities to aid in the final esthetics of our work, but they are critical when extending from either a substructure or a natural tooth. Consider how to improve the esthetics of your case with a small amount of fluorescent material. A little bit of light manipulation goes a long way.