Precision of a Reflectance Spectrophotometer in Measuring Anterior Tooth Color

The Open Dentistry Journal 30 Oct 2018 RESEARCH ARTICLE DOI: 10.2174/1874210601812010884



Intraorally, a common instrumental approach for measuring tooth color is reflectance spectrophotometry.


To evaluate the precision of a reflectance spectrophotometer in accurately measuring anterior tooth color.


The twelve labial surfaces of the anterior teeth of sixteen patients were measured spectrophotometrically (SpectroShadeTM Micro) on three non-consecutive days (1st, 2nd, 8th). Tooth color was converted to L*, a* and b* colorimetric values; intra-examiner repeatability was assessed in ΔΕ-units between two same day repeated measurements. Intra-examiner reproducibility was measured for the effect of tooth type, time and their interaction.The linear effect of the acquisition angle on the colorimetric values of each tooth was also estimated.


The highest values of systematic or random error occurred for teeth #33, #43 and #32. There were no statistically significant differences in systematic or random errors for any tooth between the three measurement days. Statistically significant differences were found for tooth type (p=0.039), whereas time and tooth and time interaction were not statistically significant. A statistically significant linear correlation was found between the L* and a* values and the acquisition angle for teeth #12 and #31, (p<0.008).


The reflectance spectrophotometer provided a precise measurement of tooth color in-vivo since the systematic and random errors generated were below the threshold for perceivable color mismatches (ΔΕ<1). In rejection of the null hypotheses, the tooth type (maxillary central incisors) and variation of the acquisition angle of image capture (L* and a* parameters in teeth #12 and #31) affected the reproducibility of intraoral spectrophotometric measurements.

Keywords: Tooth color, Spectrophotometry, Threshold, Reproducibility, Acquisition angle, Colorimeters.
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