In my last blog we discussed the four pieces to the shade-taking puzzle. Let’s take the first piece: The light. There are two aspects to this variable that we need to keep in mind: light quality and light quantity.

Light quality relates to the degrees Kelvin (K) or color temperature. You want to look for light sources that are closest to 5,500K, which is ideal for dental shade matching. Illuminants with the nomenclature of D50 fulfill this requirement. So-called “daylight” bulbs are available which can have range up to 6,500K. Color-corrected lighting is available from dental product distributors and home improvement stores. Any source for the bulbs is acceptable as long as it has the D50 designation.

Light quantity relates to the intensity of light, and can be measured by a light meter. The range of acceptability that you should strive for in the operatory is 150 – 200 foot-candles. The amount of light can be of concern in one of two situations: One is where the patient chair is situated directly in front of a window, and the other is in an operatory that has no natural daylight source.

Having the correct quantity and quality of light is a great starting point for accuracy in shade selection.