I'm implementing a solution in Java using Ebean and I'm having some issues choosing between using enums or simply look up tables.

I have a table "Tooth". A tooth can be "Temporary" or "Permanent".

I could create a simple enum:

@EnumMapping(nameValuePairs = "TEMPORARY=T, PERMANENT=P")
public enum DentitionType { TEMPORARY, PERMANENT; }

However, if I want to do a direct SQL query, I have to convert "T" and "P", so a solution would be to use a lookup table as below:

public class DentitionType {

   @Column(length = 15)
   public String name;

    private static DentitionType permanent;

    public boolean isTemporary() {
        return !this.equals(getPermanent());

    public boolean isPermanent() {
        return this.equals(getPermanent());

    public static DentitionType getPermanent() {
        if (permanent == null) {
            permanent = DentitionType.FIND.byId(2L);

        return permanent;

This feels kind of hardcoded and for larger tables a lot of isSomething functions are required.

Is there a better solution?

  • \$\begingroup\$ Could you explain a bit more? Not sure what is asked for. Do you want a better version of the enum to have defined enumValue pairs instead of the annotation? \$\endgroup\$
    – thepace
    Commented Dec 9, 2014 at 10:55
  • \$\begingroup\$ I would like to have the best of both worlds: have an entity (stored as a table in the db) but with values which have specific meaning. \$\endgroup\$
    – KirdApe
    Commented Dec 9, 2014 at 15:18

2 Answers 2


I would recommend making an enum with properties, such as:

public enum DentitionType {

    private final int id;
    private DetentionType(int id) {
        this.id = id;

    public int getId() {
        return this.id;

    public static DententionType forId(int id) {
        for (DententionType dentention : DetentionType.values()) {
            if (dentention.getId() == id) {
                return dentention;
        return null;

This is an easy way of mapping your enum to an int (you can also use a 'char' or 'String' or whatever you feel like). Then you can inside your @Entity class use some JPA events to transform to/from enum and int.

Another solution is of course to simply use the @Enumerated annotation and automatically use the ordinal of the enum. Be aware however that there has been incidents where someone accidentally switched the order of the enums, which caused DIAMONDS to become black.


With Enum you get these weapons for lookup:
- DentitionType.TEMPORARY.getValue() to get the string "T" or "P".
- DentitionType.valueOf("T") to get the enumType i.e DentitionType.TEMPORARY
- For any new Type just add the type and your job is done.

public class DentitionType{

    private String value;
    private DentitionType( String value ){
        this.value = value;
    public getValue(){
        return this.value;

Considering the current program, instead of having multiple isXYZ, try

boolean isMatchingType(DentitionType type){ // For permanent use DentitionType.PERMANENT
    return this.name.equals(type.getValue());
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ As it is an enum, I would just compare them with this == other, using .equals for enums is not necessary. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Dec 12, 2014 at 13:19
  • \$\begingroup\$ But enums are not persisted to their own table in the database. \$\endgroup\$
    – KirdApe
    Commented Dec 15, 2014 at 12:13

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