This is a quick guide to dental laboratory material selection. How can I select the best material for my patients since there are so many new and old materials out there? It all comes down to the patient’s oral conditions, the patient’s expectations, and finally the cost.

Choosing the best material for your patient can be challenging, especially when a patient’s demands and expectations are high or even unrealistic. It is crucial to set the patient’s expectations from the beginning of restoration procedures.

Please consider the following factors:

  1. Male or Female Patient – this is not a significant factor but it can determine the shape and characteristic of restorations.
  2. Age of Patient – this is very important since younger teeth are healthier and have solid opaque shade. Older patients have a lot more translucency in general (glass looking), especially coming from deep inside of teeth.
  3. Final Shade – need to know in order to determine the final dental laboratory material selection.
  4. If the patient is currently bleaching? If so, then you may want to wait a few months before selecting the final shade. Or has the patient bleached before? Then most likely we are not able to use a single shade guide.
  5. Prepped shade (dentin shade) – if the dentin shade is closer to the final shade, then material selection can be simpler.
  6. If darker, then we may have to eliminate materials such as e.max or Empress.
  7. Bite Conditions – some materials such as e.max and Empress, may or may not be suitable for patients with bite conditions such as: underbite, crossbite, or upper front teeth protrusion.
  8. Teeth Grinder – if the patient is a heavy teeth grinder, then we have to compromise with shade selection and chose a stronger material such as CAD-CAM monolithic zirconia crowns, a full gold crown (FGC), or porcelain fused to metal (PFM) with metal occlusal.
  9. Finally, the health of teeth – root canal teeth may or may not get darkened over time even if it is a lighter shade at this present time; therefore, e.max or Empress may not be a good dental laboratory material selection.


For older patients, porcelain fused to metal (PFM) with precious or semi-precious or porcelain fused to zirconia (zirconia layered crowns and bridges) may be the best choice for most conditions. Also, for shade conscientious patients, e.max and zirconia layered crowns are the better choice but may not be suitable for everyone.

Call us to discuss if you have any questions.

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