Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Digital Photography for Shade Selection

Recently I received a photo album from one of our dentists. It was pictures of some of the cases we had completed in the past year and he wanted us to see these cases in the mouth. He and the patients were thrilled with the result. I was impressed with the results as well; mostly with how well the crowns blended in with the natural dentition. You have a hard time telling which tooth was the crown! While I was musing on this I had a thought. We have always enjoyed doing good work , but the real credit goes to the dentist for providing the lab the most important element to a successful case..Information!!

I realized the dentist had made it easy to get a great result by using digital photography to communicate shading. The digital camera puts the tech right in the office with the patient and takes unknown variables out of the equation of the case. Back in the day when all we had was a written shade map, color variations were left up to the interpretation of the person viewing and the person receiving the information. Notes like “a little orange” or “grey on the incisal” were variable. Are there not many levels of orange and grey? Eliminating these variables may seem simple, but it absolutely essential to producing a great restoration. When a ceramist can build a crown looking at a life sized image of the tooth on a computer screen the results are beautiful!

The picture the lab received to communicate shade.

The final result!

I find sometimes people are intimidated by digital photography, assuming it is too complex or expensive. It doesn’t have to be either. Advanced photo equipment can be bulky and expensive, not to mention difficult to operate. There are several point and shoot model cameras with good lenses that achieve what is needed in  communicating information about shade. Along with proper shade tab placement and labeling, excellent  results can be reached. We can help facilitate digital photography for shade selection in your office if you are interested.

I am really happy when we work as a team and produce great crowns for our patients. With the materials we have today and the means of communication available, it is exciting to think of the potential!