ZahnTech Talk

Empowering Dentists by Bridging the Gap Between Technology and Dental Artistry

A Simple Shade Taking Protocol

Woman smiling with shade tabs teeth


Shade matching in aesthetic dentistry can present challenges, but with careful consideration and proper protocols, it can be successfully achieved. 


Material Selection

Material selection plays a crucial role in achieving an optimal match for the final restoration. Whether it’s zirconia, Lithium Di-Silicate, PFM, layered, or monolithic, the choice depends on factors such as the patient’s tooth shade, characterization, and translucency. It is advisable to entrust the decision to the dental technician, who possesses extensive experience with various materials. 



Effective communication is paramount throughout the shade matching process. When the laboratory is local, arranging for the patient to visit and undergo shade matching directly with the technician is ideal. However, if the laboratory is located elsewhere, a specific protocol should be followed. 



The protocol involves capturing various photographs:

1. Full Face

Full face photo, including a smile, and a retracted full-face photo.

2. Shade Tabs

Close-up photo of the aesthetic area to be treated, using the closest matching shade tab, positioned with the incisal edge facing adjacent to the tooth being matched. 

3. Darker Shade Tab

Repeat the close-up photo as in Step 2, but with a shade one step darker

4. Lighter Shade Tab

Repeat the close-up photo as in Step 2, but with a shade one step lighter. 

5. Stump Shade Tab

When applicable, take a stump shade photo with the closest matching shade tab. 


  • Ensure that the shade tabs are clearly visible and readable in all photographs.
  • Maintain a consistent camera angle to avoid distortions caused by light reflections.
  • Target the camera to the facial aspect of the tooth with a slight downward angle; angling from the incisal edge upwards should be avoided.
  • Photography equipment, such as ring flashes or twin flashes, should be carefully calibrated to prevent overexposure, which can hinder accurate shade matching.
  • Avoid using softboxes or filters for shade photography, as they can introduce errors.

This protocol provides a fundamental workflow for shade matching. However, personalized guidance and assistance can be provided to ensure confidence in treatment planning for aesthetic cases.

I am available to personally review this protocol with you, ensuring readiness for your next patient’s aesthetic treatment plan.

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