Shade Matching

Anterior Shade Matching

Matching a single central is one of the most challenging feats in esthetic dentistry, right?! Below are two simple tips that will dramatically increase the odds that you get a match on the first attempt.

Choose The Shade First

It’s important to begin the shade selection process when the patient’s teeth are fully hydrated (prior to prepping or air drying). Align the shade guide with the incisal edge of the tooth you want to match. Look at the gray body of the Vita Guide for 5 seconds, this rests and refreshes the color receptive cones in your eyes. Now, glance up at the tooth and shade tabs, looking first to determine the ‘Value’. [Value = The amount of grayness in the tooth. High Value is a bright shade like the A and B range.

Low Value is grayer and more translucent, like the C and D range]. Let your initial reaction determine your decision. Keep in mind, the longer you stare, the less likely you'll choose the right shade. Your ability to perceive color accurately is time-dependent. Within a minute, the cones fatigue, and your color perception is compromised. So, glance away from the teeth and back to the gray base of the Vita Guide for a few seconds, then return to the tabs. You can also use a gray or light blue patient bib to rest your eyes, or ideally, look at a Kodak R-27 18% Neutral Gray Card (Google it. Under $30). This card is the perfect color to literally recharge the cones in your eyes, allowing your best possible color perception.

Equally important, is the use of color-correct lighting in your operatory, to simulate the natural daylight spectrum (5,000 Kelvin). Now available in LED. Never use the overhead chair light, unless it’s a new LED, designed for shade matching.


A Picture Says A Thousand Words

Once you've determined the closest shade tab that matches the tooth, hold the shade guide incisal edge to edge, so it’s on the same plane as the tooth you want to match. Take a high-resolution, close-up photograph of the teeth, and be sure to include the shade tab number in the photo. (Your Phone, with the flash off, is a terrific and useful alternative).

Remember, for All-Ceramic restorations, a stump shade or prep color is required. The color of the prep will influence the shade of the crown or veneer. A specific stump/dentine shade guide is available, or you can use the neck portion of the Vita Guide. Take a picture of that tab after you prep. These photos can then be emailed to us at:

Please include the Doctor and Patient Name in the Subject Line. Our team will use these photos to ‘map’ the esthetics of the tooth and fine-tune the base shade. Your technicians will be grateful, and your patient will love the results!