A comparison between visual, intraoral scanner, and spectrophotometer shade matching: A clinical study


Statement of problem

Visual shade matching is subjective and a cause of concern for clinicians. Different measurement devices have been developed to assist in tooth color selection and to achieve better esthetic results. However, consensus is lacking as to which method of tooth shade selection provides more predictable results.


The purpose of this clinical study was to compare the reliability of different visual and instrumental methods for dental shade matching.

Material and methods

Visual shade matching was performed by 3 experienced clinicians using 2 different shade guides (VITA Classical A1-D4 and VITA Toothguide 3D-MASTER with 29 tabs; VITA Zahnfabrik) with and without the aid of a light-correcting device (Smile Lite; Smile Line). An intraoral scanner (TRIOS; 3Shape A/S) and a spectrophotometer (VITA Easyshade Advance 4.0; VITA Zahnfabrik) were also used for color shade matching. The instrumental methods were repeated 3 times to determine repeatability. Shade-matching sessions for each method were performed under controlled lighting on the middle third of the maxillary right central incisor of 28 participants. The Fleiss' kappa statistical test was used to assess the reliability of each method. The weighted kappa statistical test was used to assess the agreement between the shades matched by different methods (α=.05).


Instrumental methods were more accurate than visual methods. The best performance was found for the intraoral scanner configured for the 3D-MASTER scale (Fleiss' kappa value of .874) and for the spectrophotometer configured for the VITA Classical scale (Fleiss' kappa value of .805). The best visual shade-matching method was the VITA Classical scale associated with the light-correcting device (Fleiss' kappa value of .322). The Classical scale without the light-correcting device showed the poorest reliability (Fleiss' kappa value of .177) (P<.05).


Instrumental methods for color shade matching were more reliable than the visual methods tested.