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Am J Dent. 2009 Apr;22(2):67-72.

Digital image color analysis compared to direct dental CIE colorimeter assessment under different ambient conditions.

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University of Göttingen, Center of Dentistry, Department of Orthodontics, Robert-Koch-Str. 40, 37099 Göttingen, Germany.



To evaluate the concordance and repeatability of two in vivo methods for dental color assessment and to clarify the influence of different ambient light conditions and subject's head position on the assessed color variables.


Color assessments were performed by two examiners on 16 arbitrarily selected subjects under two different, standardized conditions of illumination and at two different standardized head angulations. CIE (L*a*b*) data for upper and lower central incisors were recorded in two different ways: (1) by an intra-oral contact dental colorimeter and (2) by processing digital images for performing color calculation using Adobe Photoshop software. The influence of the different ambient conditions on both methods, as well as the concordance of measurements was analyzed statistically using several mixed linear models.


Ambient light as a single factor had no significant influence on maxillary L*, a* and b* values, but it did have an effect on mandible assessments. Head angulation variation resulted in significant L* value differences using the photo method. The operator had a significant influence on values a* and b* for the photo method and on a* values for the colorimeter method. In fully lit ambient condition, the operator had a significant influence on the segregated L*, a*, and b* values. With dimmed lights, head angulation became significant, but not the operator. Evaluation of segregated L* values was error prone in both methods. Comparing both methods, deltaE values did not exceed 2.85 units, indicating that color differences between methods and recorded under varying ambient conditions were well below the sensitivity of the naked eye.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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