single centralNot the book – and hopefully not that single central you are trying to match. However, we do occasionally have to shade a single central with a myriad of intrinsic color that we often can't find tabs to match.

That problem aside, when photographing for shading what is the best approach for your technician in terms of background color... black or gray?

I was taught that when shading for color, use a gray background; when shading for incisal edge translucency use a black background. I only used both when the single central wasn't a straight up shade tab match. And I am not skilled in changing exposure settings – I just want to pick up my camera, focus and shoot.

I recently decided to go to the experts and find out what is the right answer when matching single centrals.

And guess what? It depends on who you talk to.

I work with The Winter Lab and posed the question to their master ceramists.

I asked Tak, the porcelain department manager, what he thinks and he said that he always prefers a gray background because he can identify the colors better.

I asked Hiro and another master technician; they both said that they prefer a black background because they can focus better on the color.

So where does that leave us? Find out what your ceramist prefers on your basic cases and on the challenging ones… a photo of the single central with both black and gray.

One final note…I fabricate disposable backgrounds using construction paper. I find that at times with the black manufactured ones that come with your camera purchase, are too wide to place in the anterior arch space and you end up having to shoot the picture at an odd angle. I like the paper ones because I can gently place a fold into it and place it just where I want it. We cut it to a smaller shape/version of the manufactured ones.

Single central restorations are one of our greatest challenges, but with the photos your technician prefers, you might often attain your esthetic goals on the first try.

Mary Anne Salcetti, DDS, Spear Visiting Faculty and Contributing Author. []

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Commenter's Profile Image Esad
October 3rd, 2014
The tissue reflects on the shade as well Matching the pink by making a custom pink around the shade guide is very helpfull
Commenter's Profile Image Tom Roberts
October 3rd, 2014
Great suggestions Mary Anne. Thanks. This can be a tough one sometimes but can also be a make or break for some cases. I'm sure you know this trick as well but it is helpful to get a few shots of the tooth with the flash turned way down. Shows a lot of internal characteristics not visible with stronger light.
Commenter's Profile Image Marshall Fagin, Prosthodontist
October 4th, 2014
Be sure the light reflection is the same location off of shade guide as it is off of tooth .
Commenter's Profile Image Marshall Fagin, Prosthodontist
October 4th, 2014
With all ceramics, especially e-Max, it is equally important to provide the lab with a stump shade picture. Ivoclar offers their 'Natural Die' Material shade guide that your lab should have. Could be a great gift for labs to provide their regular clients.
Commenter's Profile Image David Feldman
October 4th, 2014
Another good black background is cine foil. Flat black covered foil that can be cut and shaped how you want
Commenter's Profile Image Bernie Villadiego
November 12th, 2014
Another way to get closer to the right shade is performing a Custom White Balance procedure through your camera. I learned this through Dr. Phil Kemp out of Tennessee. He uses a "color correction tabs for macro photography" which you can buy through Amazon. Basically it is a small sticker colored with black, 18%gray, and white that you can attach to the shade tab. Then the ceramist can use this to calibrate the right color through the use of photoshop or lightroom. Here is a link: