There is no single aesthetic – it is always in the eye of the beholder. Aesthetics are individual and are difficult to assess objectively. They are demanding and at the same time undemanding. For instance, the absence of just a single tooth will disfigure a person, and we are already dealing with aesthetics when we – as dental technicians and dentists – fill that gap.
First and foremost, our customers are patients wishing for healthy dental care. Only when we have accomplished this social or medical task can we address the socio-cultural aspects of the restoration work. Patients’ cultural needs can vary. Some people eat and drink out of simple bowls, while others use bowls or cups that are minor works of art. In other words, not everyone requires aesthetics, but every individual requires a dentate mouth! It should be our primary aim to meet that basic need.
Therefore industrial manufacturing techniques and CAD/CAM methods should not be generally ‘demonised’ from the dental technology viewpoint. If restorations become more affordable for many patients due to a more economical production process and this helps them get durably healthy and beautiful teeth, these technologies are entirely justified. They make basic dental care more affordable and more broad-ranging. However, these technologies per se must not cause a social change for the worse for dental technicians and patients.
Every tooth has its own character in terms of colour, form and function. Thus every tooth replacement that we dental technicians can produce is a new individual assignment, a new creative process – whether the focus is on functional and occlusal improvements or on aesthetic corrections. The more true-to-nature we make the required replacement, the better and more harmoniously it will later fit into the patient’s overall appearance and the more lasting the patient’s satisfaction. In fact, aesthetics in themselves have a function, especially where human wellbeing is concerned. However, aesthetics must never be accomplished at the expense of function.
I have to disappoint anyone hoping I will provide generally valid guidelines and rules on how to produce individualised aesthetic restorations that match the ideal of ‘invisibility’. “Aesthetic rules do not exist for me. It is what affects me that is effective.“ This is how the German writer Theodor Fontane once described it and the same also applies to my own way of living and working. Nature affects me. Even after more than 25 years, nature is my daily objective, my challenge, the ideal – and actually it is inimitable.
Rules are defined in order to set standards. However, if there were only one standardised aesthetic, everything would be subject to a single dictate. Fortunately, committed individuals are constantly breaking the previously established rules. This opens up new horizons for creative people. Until these new approaches then become established as new standards…
Aesthetic tooth replacement is undergoing a process of change, which has a lot to do with experience and passion but also a great deal to do with genuine communication and teamwork. For instance, dental technicians and dentists should combine their efforts, pursue the same objectives and together attempt to produce tooth replacements that are as lifelike as possible. They should unite, instead of working and fighting against each other. This is because an aesthetically attractive restoration can only be achieved by cooperation between all disciplines – and this teamwork also includes the manufacturers and especially the patients!
Without interpersonal skills and empathy, dental technicians will find it difficult to fabricate a functionally and aesthetically correct restoration. Dental technicians must be prepared to deal with the individual human being every day. Those who have understood this will find a career in dental technology very satisfying and will enjoy success. Needless to say, this outlook applies to most creative occupations.
The sharp rise in the numbers suffering from burn-out shows us what happens if we are driven by greed and lose our enjoyment of the creative process and respect for others. Basic principles of the craft and guidelines count for nothing if there is a lack of passion. An individual aesthetic has to do with life, and that cannot be found in guidelines and theoretical approaches.
All dental technicians must obviously find their own ideal solution and do their work conscientiously. They do not always have to strive for the highest aesthetic quality. Aesthetic tooth replacement is a maximum demand and every individual definitely has a quality level which he cannot personally surpass. However, whatever we do should be done with commitment, enjoyment and pride.
In the past 25 years I have repeatedly grappled with the aesthetic possibilities of ceramic restorations and I have got to know a lot of fantastic people who have influenced me and had an impact on me personally and professionally. As in a mosaic, small personal experiences from all directions are added to the overall picture. We are formed from such a mosaic. It is only with the experience I have gained that I, as a dental technician, can produce individualised, aesthetic tooth replacements. Needless to say, I make use of the best possible materials available to me on the market. Nowadays there are lots of ceramic systems that deliver reasonably good results for relatively little outlay. But the fact that I can layer so precisely with Creation and specifically reproduce any effect means I am actually able to fabricate an excellent and especially lifelike restoration. Therefore what the individual material can do is always crucial, and it is precisely these properties that need to be exploited – with expertise, talent and inner passion for the material and for human beings.
Knowledge of dental technology materials and human anatomy, combined with our manual dexterity and creativity and passion in our hearts, makes every dental technician a creative artist to some extent and hence a specialist in aesthetic tooth replacement.
Experience is the source of success and the only way we can achieve individual quality and aesthetics. If we ‘old hands’ in dental technology pass onto the next generation our experience and our knowledge of the unique material that is ceramic, they will be able intuitively to copy and add to our work, integrate it into their own personality and perhaps draw up new aesthetic guidelines which then become standards...