Journal of Prosthetic Dentistry

A comparison of ceramic crown color difference between different shade selection methods: Visual, digital camera, and smartphone


      Statement of problem

      The light source stability of digital cameras and smartphones is important in shade matching in restorative and prosthetic dentistry to communicate objectively with the dental laboratory. Techniques that standardize the light source of such devices are lacking, and this limitation can lead to color mismatches, difficulties in color communication, and treatment documentation.


      The purpose of this clinical study was to compare the magnitude of color difference (ΔE) among 3 shade selection methods during the fabrication of ceramic crowns: visual shade selection with a shade guide, digital shade selection with a digital camera and cross-polarizing filter, and digital shade selection with a smartphone and a light-correcting device.

      Material and methods

      Forty-five patients in need of ceramic crowns were enrolled, and shade selection was evaluated according to different protocols: visual shade selection (A-D shade guide and IPS Natural Die Material Shade Guide, sent to the dental laboratory technician via a laboratory prescription); digital shade selection with a digital camera (D7000; Nikon Corp) with an 85-mm lens and wireless close-up flash, with and without a cross-polarizing filter (Polar eyes); and digital shade selection with a smartphone and a light-correcting device (iPhone XS attached to Smile Lite MDP, with and without its cross-polarizing filter accessory). Information from the smartphone was imported to an app (IPS e.max Shade Navigation App; Ivoclar AG) that converted the reading to a shade and level of translucency for the ceramic restoration. For all photographs, a gray reference card with known color values was positioned by the mandibular teeth and was used for white balancing of the digital photographs with a software program. All photographs were edited and sent to the dental laboratory: white-balanced with the shade guide; white-balanced with the substrate shade guide; black and white; saturated; and cross-polarized. Ceramic crowns were made with the same lithium disilicate material (IPS e.max CAD; Ivoclar AG) and cemented with the same resin cement (RelyX Ultimate Clicker, A3 shade; 3M). The ΔE values between the crown and the adjacent tooth were determined. The data were analyzed by using a 1-way analysis of variance (ANOVA) and Tukey post hoc tests (α=.05).


      The mean ΔE between a cemented ceramic crown and the adjacent tooth in the visual shade selection group was 5.32, significantly different than both digital camera (ΔE=2.75; P=.002) and smartphone (ΔE=2.34; P=.001), which were not different from each other (P=.857).


      The digital shade selection with photographs acquired with both a digital camera and a smartphone with a light-correcting device showed a threshold within the acceptable values (ΔE<3.7), whereas the visual shade selection showed an average ΔE above the threshold for acceptable values (ΔE>3.7). The use of a gray reference card helped standardize the white balance from the digital images.
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