Tips and Tricks: Making Regular Zirconia Look Like Layered Feldspathic Porcelain

Tips and Tricks: Making Regular Zirconia Look Like Layered Feldspathic Porcelain

In today’s episode of AmericaSmiles, Tips, and Tricks, we’re going to teach you how to get regular zirconia—monolithic zirconia—to look like layered feldspathic porcelain.

Starting with Classic White

So, how do you get your zirconia to look like layered porcelain? Here at AmericaSmiles, we mill everything in classic white. I have previously argued why I think classic white is better than pre-shaded. I also think pre-shaded is better than multilayer, but that’s another episode!

So, we always start off with classic white. We have this super cool product. Again, we call these Tips and Tricks, trying to avoid it being a commercial, but the fact is, I sell and manufacture it myself. This particular product has got a little bit of a blue tint to it. I would take this blue and layer it wherever you would layer enamel porcelain. 

So, remember the old days when we were stacking pores, we would put down the patient’s dent, put down the enamel, and maybe a modifier here and there? Wherever you would layer enamel porcelain, you just take a brush, take this blue liquid, and brush it just in that incisal third. Nowhere else, just that incisal third. 

 

Use a Blocking Agent

Now, here’s what’s beautiful about this product. I’ve actually added a blocking agent to the blue tint. So, once you put that blue down there, it’s got a blocking agent that allows you to dip it. I wish you had my little jewelry jar; it’s got a little basket in it. Anyway, when you dunk this into the A2, the A2 can penetrate everywhere into that zirconia except where you layered the blue. If you imagine this, if you’ve put this blocking agent down that has a blue tint to it, then dip it into the A2; it can’t penetrate that region.

Once it’s in the zirconia furnace, it gives you the illusion of layered porcelain, so it’s actually darker at the gingival third. You go lighter in that middle third and heavier with this product at the incisal three. We call this product the AMS Incisal Tones.

This will work on anyone’s zirconia. I’d like to tell you it only works on Genesis so you buy more Genesis, but the fact is, this will work on anybody’s classic white zirconia. So that’s how you take classic white and get it to look like it’s porcelain.

 

Starting with Pre-Shaded

Well, what if you start with pre-shaded? If you start with a pre-shaded product, it’s flat A2 everywhere. It’s flat A3 everywhere; the product is that shade, whatever your shade is.  

So, you have that dilemma of it looking like an unnatural dud. Now, what you gain with pre-shaded, I talked about this in another video, you get the consistency. If you’re working with a good manufacturer, you get the consistency. But how do you turn a pre-shaded product into something that looks like layered feldspathic porcelain?

Well, we happen to know exactly what is used to make zirconia shaded. It’s just rust. They put certain metals in there that they know are going to oxidize. When that metal oxidizes, it’s going to give you the illusion of an A1, a B1, a C2, or a D3. Since we know what oxides are in there, we know how to get rid of them.

So we have this other product called AMS Incisal Reducer. Use that same brush, use the Incisor Reducer, brush it and the enamel third, and it’s quite literally stripping the metal oxides out of there. What happens when you put that in a sintering oven? What was A2 is now A2 with the oxide stripped out of the incisal third.

 

Using Toners

Now you can come back and use another toner. I wouldn’t recommend this with the blocking agent, but you can use any traditional gray, violet, or blue and add a little bit more tone to it if you want. The AMS Incisal Reducer will work on anybody’s pre-shaded product. You just layer it on. It strips the oxides out of there.

It goes into the sintering oven; it comes out looking like layered porcelain. The best way to get your zirconia to look like layered porcelain is to layer some porcelain on it. 

 

Zirconia Crowns with Cutbacks

In our milling center, we’re seeing a growing trend toward people ordering zirconia crowns with cutbacks in them. Dentists are going old school. They’re over the monolithic craze. They’re over the price race to the bottom craze. They want to make the crown look good. They’re tired of ugly-looking zirconia. Let’s face it, everyone’s zirconia is ugly. Our product, Genesis, is less ugly than everyone else’s, that’s what I like to say. If you can design your crown with a little bit of a cutback, it takes you five minutes to layer a little feldspathic porcelain there. A little bit of body, a little bit of enamel, and it dramatically changes the look.

 

Selling to the Doctors

Guys, on average, are charging an extra $80. So whatever you’re charging for your regular full zirconia, build it with a bit of cutback. Doctors will go for lighter zirconia. It’s up to you to sell to the doctor. Tell the doc, “Look, doc, I can give you a really good crown for a hundred bucks. Let me layer some porcelain on there. Yeah, it’s $180, but your patients are going to love it.” There’s nothing better than a patient saying, “Wow! That looks like a natural tooth!” They’re going to refer their friends. You’ve got to be able to sell that idea to the doctor. Doctors are getting $1200, $1400 a crown.

Now they’re still paying us $100; no reason they can’t pay an extra $80. Layer a little porcelain on there. You’ve got the classic white. Use the blocking agent and dip it. You’ve got the Incisal Reducers. Start with a pre-shaded or just go old-fashioned. Get a cutback in your zirconia layer and add a little porcelain.

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AmericaSmiles® was founded more than a decade ago after Keith Crittenden began sharing with dental industry colleagues his ideas for helping dentists improve their business as a means of growing his own dental lab business. Soon after, the AmericaSmiles® Network was launched and our mission has been supporting dental labs ever since.