Making Sense of Dental Lab Material Matters

Published on: 
Dental Lab Products, Dental Lab Products June 2022, Volume 44, Issue 3

A look at dental lab material trends, with the results of the 2022 Dental Lab Products® Materials Survey.

The work performed in dental labs can be described in many ways. Sculpture, design, engineering, production, fabrication, modeling, artistic expression, prototyping, painting, molding, and assembling are all fitting terms to cover at least some of the work being performed by dental technicians. The common factor in all these situations, like all creative situations, is the need for a medium to work with—a material.

A lot is expected from the materials used in dentistry. These materials are generally being used to stand in for all or part of a tooth, which means they must be strong yet relatively easy to shape into custom forms with minute details. Long-term durability is another key, as the final products from a dental lab must both fit and function in the oral cavity, which can be a harsh environment.

But replacing a tooth isn’t just about fit and function; these materials also must be made to look like the tooth they are replacing in many specific ways. Teeth are full of nuances and variations in shade, translucency, and surface texture, so dental lab materials must also be capable of mimicking these details and retaining that esthetic appearance over time.


This is a lot to ask of any 1 material, and it’s still quite a challenge to do with multiple materials that work together. For this reason, dental lab technicians are always on the lookout for new material options to try, and dental materials manufacturers are constantly producing new formulations and combinations to create a dizzying array of options in both types of materials and different versions of material types.

It’s a never-ending search for the perfect material, and the effort requires an ongoing education in the chemistry and physics behind the properties of each material option. That scientific foundation allows for constant experimentation and fine-tuning of workflows and processes in the search of the best possible restorative and esthetic outcomes. The decisions lab technicians make about the materials they choose are among the most important they face day in and day out.

With the results of the 2022 Dental Lab Products® Materials Survey, here is a look at some of the ways dental lab technicians view the materials they choose to work with.