Journal of Prosthetic Dentistry
Research and Education| Volume 127, ISSUE 6, P911-917, June 2022

Self-perception and self-representation preference between 2-dimensional and 3-dimensional facial reconstructions among dentists, dental students, and laypersons

Published:February 02, 2021DOI:


      Statement of problem

      Computer-aided design (CAD) software can merge the intraoral digital scan with patient photographs or 3-dimensional (3D) facial reconstructions for treatment planning purposes. However, whether an individual perceives a 3D facial reconstruction as a better self-representation compared with a 2-dimensional (2D) photograph is unclear.


      The purpose of this observational study was to compare self-perception ratings and self-representation preference of the 2D and 3D facial reconstructions among laypersons, dental students, and dentists.

      Material and methods

      Three populations participated in the study: laypersons, dental students, and dentists (n=20, N=60). Facial and intraoral features were digitized by using facial and intraoral scanners, and a complete-face smile photograph was obtained. Two simulations were performed for each participant: 2D (2D group) and 3D (3D group) reconstructions. In the 2D group, a maxillary digital veneer waxing from the left to the right second premolars was produced without altering the shape, position, or length of the involved teeth. A software program (Dental Systems; 3Shape A/S) was used to merge the maxillary digital waxing with the full-face smile photograph. One image was obtained for each participant. In the 3D group, a dental software program (Matera 2.4; exocad GmbH) was used to merge the intraoral and facial scans. Subsequently, 1 video of a 180-degree rotation of each 3D superimposition was obtained. Participants evaluated both superimpositions on a scale from 1 (least esthetically pleasing) to 6 (most esthetically pleasing). Finally, participants were asked which superimposition they preferred for a potential treatment outcome representation.


      All the ratings were esthetically pleasing (median group rating 5 or 6). When analyzed solely for differences across occupation groups, ratings for the 2D representation varied significantly across populations (Kruskal-Wallis chi-squared=13.241, df=2, P=.001), but the ratings for the 3D representation did not exhibit statistically significant differences (Kruskal-Wallis chi-squared=4.3756, df=2, P=.112). Ordinal logistic regression revealed no significant main effects but a significant effect of the population×image-type interaction on the esthetic rating. All participants felt well-represented in both the 2D and 3D representations. Also, 40% of dentists, 55% of dental students, and 50% of laypersons preferred the 3D reconstructions. Sex and occupation in general had no effect on the ratings. However, students tended to give higher ratings to the 3D representations of themselves.


      There is no evidence based on the current study that 2D and 3D representations were perceived differently, but representation preferences may depend on a person’s occupation. When individuals rated 3D visualization higher than 2D visualization, they strongly preferred the 3D visualization for representing the treatment outcome.
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