Communicating Shade and Surface Texture the Proper Way
When it comes to communicating the shade and texture to a laboratory technician, it varies depending on where you are exactly working in the mouth.
For instance, if you are working in the posterior part of the mouth, it is not uncommon to just simply write down the requested shade on the lab script and start working on it. If you are, however, working in the anterior esthetic zone, you cannot just simply write it down – you can ask any lab technician and they will tell you that they have never seen a tooth that perfectly matches the shade guide.
So, in order to avoid any problems and to communicate the proper shade and texture, the use of digital photography is of utmost importance. Given that the texture and shade are completely different, the images needed to communicate them should also be taken differently.
Showing Shade Through Photos
When you are taking a photo for shade communication, the best thing to do is to remove the flash reflection from the tooth as best as you can. If that is not doable, you can at least move the reflection to a different part of the tooth. In terms of orientation, instead of orienting the camera perpendicular to the tooth, position the camera so that it is oriented from above, approximately 20 degrees).
This then moves the flash to the cervical area of the tooth, making it easier to show the true shade within the body of the tooth. The shade tabs will then be held in the same plane of space as the tooth for the photo.
Thanks to technology, accurate shade information can now be communicated with devices that are intended for “shade-taking”. However, note that these devices are not 100% reliable for communicating the sub-surface color, translucency and effects.
Photography for Showing Surface Texture
When it comes to showing surface texture through images, note that it is actually accomplished in the opposite way than how shade is communicated. When communicating the surface texture, what you want is for the flash to be reflected in the photo. This can now be achieved by orienting the camera perpendicular to the tooth.
Digital photography is the only way to communicate texture to the lab technician. If photography is not used, the technician can only determine how much texture to place by using the texture of the stone model. When looking at a stone model, it would appear as if the teeth do not have any surface texture at all, but with digital photography, it will reveal otherwise.
In reality, it does not take much surface texture to create reflection on the tooth, so photography is really the best way that this surface can be communicated.
So, the next time you are taking images to communicate surface texture and shade, make sure you note the angulation of the camera.