Great shade photos = great colour matching

In order to get the best results, the photos of the patient supplied to us need to be of the best possible quality. In the past, we’ve often received photos that make it difficult for us to be certain that the colour matching we perform will be accurate for the patient.

On this page, we’ll show you the do’s and don’ts of shade photography.

Here's a few examples of what shouldn't be done:

Fig. 1
Fig. 2
Fig. 3
Fig. 4
Fig. 5
Fig. 6
Fig. 7
Fig. 8

1. Incorrect or no retraction (Fig 1, 4, 6 and 8). It is very important that there is sufficient retraction for us to fully see the teeth we are matching. All the way from incisal to cervical. The other issue with incorrect retraction is that it can create a shadow (Fig 1) which can cause an incorrect shade tab selection to include in the photo.

2. Photo is not close enough to the teeth (Fig 2, 5 and 8). Although smart phones can take good photos, zooming in doesn’t always give us the details, such as translucent edges, crack lines or any other characteristics.

4. It is best to take the photos at the beginning of the appointment. Teeth usually dehydrate during the process and take on a frosty appearance (Fig 7).

3. The biggest issue with most of these photos in that the shade tab is not at the same depth or distance to the teeth we are matching (Fig 2,3 and 5). If a shade tab is closer to the camera it will appear brighter. If a shade tab is behind the teeth, it will appear somewhat grey. This is a common fault almost every shade photo we receive.


Tips for great shade photos

1. Allow 2 – 5 minutes at the beginning of the appointment to take the photos. This is very important because teeth can dehydrate during preparation to the point where the natural tooth colour can change (usually brighter).

2. Be familiar with your camera and what settings work best, including the distance away from the face. From experience, a smartphone works best at a 2.5x zoom however, results may vary. 

3. Place the correct size retractors and keep them held in place for the photo (either with the help of the patient or nurse). At the very least, ensure that patients lips are held away from the teeth.

4. Position the shade tab(s) in the same line as the target shade and shoot.

5. Repeat step 4 either with different shade tabs or adjusting the camera angle to minimise reflection. Do this as many times as you feel necessary.

6. After preparation, take a photo of the prep, including either a stump or shade tab in the photo. This is one of the most important photos and is mostly overlooked. It is particularly helpful when it is a dark RCT stump or a post and core.

7. When ready, send the photos including the details of the patient (such as their name) as well as any other information that may be required for us to know. You may use whichever method you prefer such as email, dropbox or any other means. 

If there’s anything you were unsure about in this guide or you have any questions, we’re here to help.

You can reach us at our front desk by emailing reception@dentalcreations.com.au or give us a call on (03) 8609 7272