If you prefer videos, watch the youtube video above where we take you through a step-by-step guide on how to take the best shade for your next restoration. We’ve kept it short and sweet so enjoy!
Shade matching can be the most annoying part of any direct or indirect restoration. The theory behind it can be boring because it involves words we’re not used to hearing… like chroma, hue and value.
So we did the boring research for you, so you don’t have to. And we’ve come up with a list of rules to follow to help you get the best shade match for your next restoration.
Our eyes see using photoreceptors called rods and cones. We have roughly 6 million cones which help us see colours but they fatigue. On the other hand, rods help us see in the dark and differentiate between what’s darker or lighter. We have over 100 million rods and they don’t fatigue.
This means our eyes are much better at differentiating between lightness and darkness compared to different colours or tints. So why is the VITA shade guide ordered in colour tints ABCD?
The first thing you want to be doing before the appointment is to re-arrange your vita shade guide in order of lightness to darkness as shown on the screen. This is the order in value. Even if pick the wrong tint or colour of shade, If you’re able to get the value of the shade right, most likely it won’t be noticeable.
So when the patient comes in, ask them to remove any lipstick. Sit the patient upright to allow the light to reflect on the tooth naturally. Adjust the chair height to ensure the patient is sat at eye level so that the most colour sensitive part of your retina is being used to determine shade.
You should always take the shade at the beginning of the appointment before you do anything to the teeth and whatever you do, don’t blow air on the teeth because this dehydrates the enamel and alters the shade.
Now we’ve all heard that the best place to take a shade is in natural daylight at a north facing window. But that’s so inconsistent and impractical. So to consistently replicate natural daylight, we can use light correcting LEDs to illuminate the area.
You don’t need any of those expensive dental shade taking lights that sell for over £300. You can get a cheap pocket LED from amazon which is daylight balanced and has over 95% colour accuracy for just around £20!
Take the whole shade guide to the mouth and move it left to right, holding it parallel to the tooth. This is much easier than taking a single shade out and holding it against the tooth. Eliminate the shades which are too bright or too dark, leaving you with just a few.
Now take single shades to the tooth and hold it perpendicular to the tooth. Most people hold it parallel and this can cause a shadow on the tooth, which will change the value. When comparing multiple shades, you want to do this quickly.
You might have experienced something called the afterimage effect, where if you stare at something for too long and look at a blank wall, you see a faint image of it on the wall. This will happen if you stare at a shade tab for a long time, then swap it for another one. The colours of the previous shade tab will still be in your vision of the new shade tab.
So always compare shade tabs in 5 second glances with periods of rest. During your periods of rest, try to look at something blue like the patient bib. This readjusts your eyes for orange and yellow acuity.
When looking at the shade tab and the tooth, you should mainly be looking at the middle 1/3 area. This is where the colour is most consistent and where most composite manufacturers try to match their shade to.
Now at this point, you may wish to get the patient or even your nurse involved and together you can agree on a shade.