Scientific Online Resource System

Scripta Scientifica Medicinae Dentalis

Basic methods of color determination in dentistry

Radostina Vasileva


Determining the color of the teeth is a complicated process. Scientific research has shown that 75% of dental medicine doctors are struggling when visually determining the color of the teeth with the help of shade master. Factors like light condition, timeframe, age, sex, clothing, visual perception, redistribution of enamel masses, shine, transparency, opacity, and color of the gingiva make it harder to determine the right color of the teeth. Contemporary dentistry uses different methods and mechanisms, which can ease the work of the dentists. The uses of spectrophotometers, colorimeters, and digital images are useful instruments when analyzing the colors. These instruments are useful methods for analyzing the colors for direct and indirect restorations, procedures before and after teeth whitening, communication with indirect restorations, recreation and shade checking, as well as quality control of color recreation. In articles the authors recommend when available to combine the visual method as well as the instrumental method of color determination, because they complement each other and lead to predictable results.


shade match, spectrophotometry, colorimetry, dental image, color

Full Text


Chu SJ, Trushkowsky RD, Paravina RD. Dental color matching instruments and systems. Review of clinical and research aspects. J Dent. 2010;38(Suppl 2):e2-16. doi: 10.1016/j.jdent.2010.07.001.

Kim-Pusateri S1, Brewer JD, Davis EL, Wee AG. Reliability and accuracy of four dental shade-matching devices. J Prosthet Dent. 2009;101(3):193-9. doi: 10.1016/S0022-3913(09)60028-7.

Liang CH, Cheng YA, Hong HH, Hsieh HC. Stability and reproducibility of an amateur digital camera for dental photography. J Dent Sci. 2007; 2(3):157-63. doi : 10.30086/JDS.200709.0005.

McLaren Е. The essential elements of evaluating and communicating tooth colour. Cosmetic Dentistry. 2012.

McLaren E, Shoenbaum T. Digital photography enhances diagnostics, communication and documentation. Compend Contin Educ Dent. 2011;32 (Spec No 4):36-8.

McLaren E, Chang Y. Photography and Photoshop: Simple Tools and Rules for Effective and Accurate Communication. Inside Dentistry. 2006;2(8):97-101.

Chao-Hua Liang et al. Stability and reproducibility of an amateur digital camera for dental photography. J Dent Sci, 2007; 3.

Cheung V, Westland S. Methods for Optimal Color Selection. J Imaging Sci Technol. 2006; 50(5):481–8. doi: 10.2352/J.ImagingSci.Technol.

Chu J. The science of color and shade selection in aesthetic dentistry. Dent Today. 2002; 21(9):86–9.

Bengel W. Digital photography and the assessment of therapeutic results after bleaching procedures. J Dent Restor Dent. 2003; 15(Suppl 1): 21–32.

Culic B, Dudea D, Prejmerean V, Culic C, Colosi H, Alb C. Obtaining natural tooth color with digital photography – clinical study on 30 patients. Clujul Med. 2011;84(4):524-7.

Farah, R. Agreement Between digital image analysis and clinical spectrophotometer in CIEL *C*ho coordinate differences and total color difference measurements of dental ceramic shade tabs. Int J Esthet Dent, 2016;11(2):234–45.

Dalloca L, Pasquadio C, Freedman G. Digital and Analog Photography. Contemp Esthet Dent. 2012.

Fernandes A, Lakhani D, Herekar M. A survey on variability in shade selection by practicing dentists. Int J Esthet Dent. 2011; 6(2):198-204.

Fondriest J. Improving photographic strategies in shade communication. J Cosmet Dent. 2003;19(3):70-4.

Fondriest J. The use of dental colorimeters in shade communication. J Cosmet Dent. 2004.

Knösel M, Reus M, Rosenberger A, Ziebolz D. A novel method for testing the veridicality of dental colоur assessments. Eur J Orthod. 2012;34(1):19-24. doi: 10.1093/ejo/cjq142.

Khoo T. A comparison between a photographic shade analysis system and conventional visual shade matching method. Iowa Research Online (IRO); 2015.

Wee AG, Lindsey DT, Kuo S, Johnston WM. Color accuracy of commercial digital cameras for use in dentistry. Dent Mater. 2006;22(6):553-9. doi:10.1016/

Sluzker A, Knosel M. Sensitivity of digital dental photo CIE l. a. b. analysis compared to spectrophotometer clinical assessment over 6 months. Am J Dent. 2011;24(5):300-4.

Seino H. Dental imagination a record of techniques and feelings. Quintessence. 1988.

Rosenstiel S, Land M, Fujimoto J. Contemporary fixed prosthodontics. Elsevier; 2016.

Mahn E. Clinical dental photography. Part II. Protocol for shade taking and communication with the lab. Int Dent Aust. 2013; 8:34.



Article Tools
Email this article (Login required)
About The Author

Radostina Vasileva
Medical University of Varna

Department of Dental Material Science and Propedeutics of Prosthetic Dental Medicine, Faculty of Dental Medicine

Font Size