Visual shade matching more accurate than colorimeter

Clinicians who determined shade using visual observation performed better than a colorimeter in a recent study, which will be presented at the upcoming International Association for Dental Research conference in Barcelona, Spain.

Researchers from Ankara University and Ohio State University sought to compare the accuracy of an intraoral colorimeter and visual shade determination. They prepared metal-ceramic specimens of five different shades (A1, B1, C3, D3, and A3.5) of the Vitapan Classical shade guide (Vita Zahnfabrik).

Five clinicians determined the shade of specimens using the Vita guide while instrumental measurements were performed with an intraoral colorimeter.

They prepared 50 final specimens -- 25 according to the visual results and 25 according to the instrumental shade determination results -- and used a spectrophotometer to analyze master and final specimens.

Among the findings:

  • Color differences calculated between master specimens and final specimens whose shades were determined by visual observation were smaller than the difference of specimens whose color was determined with instrumental measurements.
  • These differences were significant particularly for master specimens in the shades of B1 and A3.5.
  • The result of instrumental determination of shade B1 was within the clinically acceptable limit, while the result for A3.5 was over the limit and that of C3 was over the acceptable limit for both methods.

"Observers (visual shade determination) performed better than the colorimeter in regard to accuracy," the authors concluded. "Replication of high-value shades (A1-B1) was successful in both shade determination methods."

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