Color and translucency of enamel in vital maxillary central incisors

Alvin G. Wee, Damian A. Winkelmann, David J. Gozalo, Masayasu Ito, William M. Johnston

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Statement of problem: Limited data, especially in vivo data, exist regarding translucency parameter (TP) values for vital anterior nonrestored dentition. Additionally, published information on the CIELab values of vital enamel at a theoretical infinite thickness is lacking. Obtaining TP and CIELab values in a population that varies in terms of ethnicity, age, and sex would be useful to inform the development and placement of esthetic dental restorations that more accurately capture the complex optical qualities of enamel. Purpose: The purpose of this clinical study was to investigate in vivo the TP and CIELab values of vital anterior incisor enamel at a theoretical infinite thickness in a diverse pool of participants who varied in age, ethnicity, and sex. Material and methods: Spectral reflectance measurements (380 to 780 nm at 2-nm intervals) of the mid-incisal region of vital, unrestored maxillary anterior teeth were made in 120 participants, equally divided into 2 sexes, 4 racial or ethnic groups, and 5 age ranges. Instruments were oriented to achieve 0-degree observation and 45-degree illumination, and spectral measurements were made with white and black silicone backgrounds. Reflectance spectra of the incisal enamel from both the black and white silicone backing were used to fit to the Kubelka-Munk (K-M) reflectance theory. The CIEDE2000 color difference formula was used to determine TP, and data were compared among participant demographics. CIELab color coordinate values for enamel at an infinite thickness were calculated by using a D65 illumination and CIE standard human (2-degree) observer. To determine value ranges and significant differences among participant groups, CIELab values were analyzed with a 4-way ANOVA, and TP values were analyzed with a generalized linear mixed model. Pairwise comparisons of interest were evaluated with Bonferroni-corrected Student t tests. Results: For maxillary central incisor enamel, the average TP was 10.1 ±3.6, and the average CIELab color coordinates were L∗=73.5 ±7.6, a∗=2.2 ±1.8, b∗=11.9 ±8.4. TP values of incisal enamel significantly differed among specific age and ethnic groups, with general significant interactions of age and sex (P=.009), as well as ethnicity and age (P=.042). CIE color coordinates of enamel at an infinite thickness were found in the L∗ coordinate among different age groups with the same sex and ethnicity, specifically when comparing CIELab direction with the population characteristics of age (P=.011) and the interaction between age, sex, and ethnicity (P=.035). Conclusions: In vivo L∗ values and TP values of incisal enamel differed significantly among groups determined by ethnicity, age, and sex.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalJournal of Prosthetic Dentistry
StateAccepted/In press - 2022

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Supported in part by the National Eye Institute , National Institutes of Health Grant No. R15 EY013527 , the 2003 Awards and Grants Program of the Editorial Council of The Journal of Prosthetic Dentistry, and the 2020 University of Minnesota School of Dentistry Summer Research Program.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022 Editorial Council for The Journal of Prosthetic Dentistry

PubMed: MeSH publication types

  • Journal Article


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