I was impressed with a new shade guide system I ordered a few years ago. It was from what is perhaps the highest quality dental ceramics manufacturer in the world. Headquartered in Liechtenstein, they produce ceramics that are unmatched for natural beauty and durability. The shade guide had tooth tabs in all of the color shades they make and was exquisitely crafted. I was anxious to begin using their dental ceramics on upcoming esthetic cases.
Looking back now, I am disappointed that I have only used that guide sparingly. The cases I have done with it have turned out great, but the shade guide hasn’t allowed me to use it much.
Although marketed internationally, the company and their shade guides are European. That means that their shade guides represent shades and esthetic nuances that occur naturally and are still prevalent in that home market. Our needs and wishes here in the USA are usually for whiter and more uniform shades than that. So I pull out our domestic shade guides, with shades much brighter and whiter, to match the bleached shades that are typical today- at least on our side of the pond.
I’m not sure why that difference exists. I don’t think it’s that Europeans don’t care about appearance. My wife and I spent a day touring the Grand Canyon a couple years ago. At least half the visitors there that day were international, mostly from either European or Asian nations. As the fellow tourists walked toward and by us, we first could tell by their speech or accents if they were from abroad or not. It was then hard not to notice that the international visitors were almost always attractively fit and well-attired, but in contrast didn’t have the perfectly aligned very white teeth that the American tourists had. Having some knowledge of dentistry in different foreign nations, I know that dental care is fairly comparable to ours in many European nations in terms of both quality and accessibility.
What I am sure about is that what is portrayed here as an ideal smile in most popular media tends to focus on perfectly aligned and very white teeth. Possibly the difference then is a result of a European media that may portray a different esthetic ideal. The option to have a more “natural” look incorporates additional factors that influence the appearance of teeth. Those would include factors such as varying degrees of brightness, translucency, shape and contour, texture, and age-appropriate stain and craze lines.
Either approach or emphasis is fine. If you are considering dental esthetic treatment, first decide what seems right for you. Then if you want the pearly whites whiter, I can help you with that. Or if you want to go total European on me, I’ve got a shade guide I’m just dying to use!