Journal of Prosthetic Dentistry

Predicting tooth color from facial features and gender: Results from a white elderly cohort

      Statement of problem.

      Clinicians providing edentulous patients with complete dentures are often confronted with the problem of not knowing the patient's natural tooth color. It would be valuable to be able to determine this from other facial features.


      The purpose of this study was to assess the possibility of predicting tooth color in the elderly from hair and eye color, facial skin complexion, and gender.

      Material and methods.

      The lightness (L*), chroma (C*), and hue (h*) of the color of 541 natural teeth were measured for a white study population (94 subjects, 75 to 77 years old, 55.3% male) by means of a single measurement with a clinically applicable spectrophotometer. Hair and eye color and facial skin complexion were recorded in categories. Mixed-effects regression models were calculated for each L*, C*, and h* value with hair and eye color, facial skin complexion, and gender as independent variables (α=.05).


      Only gender and hair color in univariate analysis and, additionally, eye color in multivariate analysis, were significant predictors of tooth color. Higher L* values (lighter color) were associated with lighter eye color and with female gender. The C* value was lower (less saturated) for women. More yellow/green than yellow/red h* values were associated with hair colors other than black and with female gender. However, the parameter estimates of the variables were rather low.


      Determination of tooth color from hair and eye color and from gender in the white elderly was only partially possible. (J Prosthet Dent 2008;99:101-106)
      To read this article in full you will need to make a payment

      Purchase one-time access:

      Academic & Personal: 24 hour online accessCorporate R&D Professionals: 24 hour online access
      One-time access price info
      • For academic or personal research use, select 'Academic and Personal'
      • For corporate R&D use, select 'Corporate R&D Professionals'


      Subscribe to Journal of Prosthetic Dentistry
      Already a print subscriber? Claim online access
      Already an online subscriber? Sign in
      Institutional Access: Sign in to ScienceDirect


        • van der Burgt TP
        • ten Bosch JJ
        • Borsboom PC
        • Kortsmit WJ
        A comparison of new and conventional methods for quantification of tooth color.
        J Prosthet Dent. 1990; 63: 155-162
        • Nitschke I
        Geriatric oral health issues in Germany.
        Int Dent J. 2001; 51: 235-246
        • Beltran-Aguilar ED
        • Barker LK
        • Canto MT
        • Dye BA
        • Gooch BF
        • Griffin SO
        • Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
        • et al.
        Surveillance for dental caries, dental sealants, tooth retention, edentulism, and enamel fluorosis--United States, 1988-1994 and 1999-2002.
        MMWR Surveill Summ. 2005; 54: 1-43
        • Brodbelt RH
        • O'Brien WJ
        • Fan PL
        • Frazer-Dib JG
        • Yu R
        Translucency of human dental enamel.
        J Dent Res. 1981; 60: 1749-1753
        • Burchett Jr, PJ
        • Christensen LC
        Estimating age and sex by using color, form, and alignment of anterior teeth.
        J Prosthet Dent. 1988; 59: 175-179
        • Solheim T
        Dental color as an indicator of age.
        Gerodontics. 1988; 4: 114-118
        • Telivuo M
        • Murtomaa H
        • Lahtinen A
        Observations and concepts of the oral health consequences of tobacco use of Finnish periodontists and dentists.
        J Clin Periodontol. 1992; 19: 15-18
        • Chiappinelli JA
        • Walton RE
        Tooth discoloration resulting from long-term tetracycline therapy: a case report.
        Quintessence Int. 1992; 23: 539-541
        • Jahangiri L
        • Reinhardt SB
        • Mehra RV
        • Matheson PB
        Relationship between tooth shade value and skin color: an observational study.
        J Prosthet Dent. 2002; 87: 149-152
        • Dummett CO
        • Sakumura JS
        • Barens G
        The relationship of facial skin complexion to oral mucosa pigmentation and tooth color.
        J Prosthet Dent. 1980; 43: 392-396
        • Goodkind RJ
        • Schwabacher WB
        Use of a fiber-optic colorimeter for in vivo color measurements of 2830 anterior teeth.
        J Prosthet Dent. 1987; 58: 535-542
        • Martin M
        • Grunendahl M
        • Martin P
        Age differences in stress, social resources, and well-being in middle and older age.
        J Gerontol B Psychol Sci Soc Sci. 2001; 56: P214-P222
        • MacAdam DL
        Color measurement: theme and variation. Springer series in optical sciences. Springer-Verlag, New York1981: 162-177