When a laboratory fabricates a restoration, they often rely on digital photographs to match the shade of the patient’s dentition. This method of communicating the appropriate shade to the laboratory technician is generally reliable, however, there are limitations.
When selecting shade, dentists often use standard operatory lighting without magnification. When using a digital photograph, however, the image is affected by the camera, the lens, and the use of a flash. Furthermore, the image is viewed by the technician using a digital screen, which further affects how the digital photograph is viewed and perceived.
Although the influence is apparent, there is little to no data on the amount or significance of the impact on shade selection and restoration fabrication. The college’s Clinical/Dental Education Research Initiative Support Program (CRISP) supported a research project developed by John Syrbu, assistant professor in the Department of Family Dentistry, aimed at quantifying a digital photograph’s influence and clinical significance on shade selection and laboratory fabrication.
This study will lay the groundwork for developing a predictable protocol that informs both clinicians and laboratory technicians to minimize the gap between shade viewed under operatory lighting conditions and a digital photograph as seen by the technician. These guidelines may recommend, for example, particular cameras, lenses, lighting practices, or techniques for the dentist in shade evaluation and communication.