Background: The final goal of color measurement or shade specification in dentistry is
the reproduction by prosthetic materials of all important appearance characteristics of natural oral
structures. The application of color science in dentistry is an objective way to measure and evaluate
such structures and dental materials in clinical practice and dental research.
Method: Literature on color science was reviewed to present new metrics to evaluate color differences
of dental materials and dental structures. Visual acceptability and perceptibility values of color
differences are reviewed and new whiteness indexes to describe whiteness in dentistry are presented.
Results: In the last decade, the CIELAB 50:50% perceptibility and acceptability thresholds were set
to 1.2 and 2.7, respectively, and the CIEDE2000 50:50% perceptibility and acceptability thresholds
were set to 0.8 and 1.8. The CIEDE2000 color-difference formula became increasingly popular in
dentistry. Developments in color science have led to the description of tooth whiteness and changes
in tooth whiteness based on whiteness indexes, with the most relevant being the !"!whiteness index,
which is a customized index based in CIELAB color space.
Conclusion: The application of color science in dentistry has allowed the precise description of
tooth color and whiteness. The revised and new CIEDE2000 color-difference formula is expected to
fully replace the outdated CIELAB formula in almost all dental applications. Recent psychophysical
studies have reported values of visual thresholds and new whiteness indexes, which can serve as
quality control tools to guide the selection of esthetic dental materials, evaluate clinical performance,
and interpret visual and instrumental findings in clinical dentistry, dental research, and subsequent
Keywords: Color, CIELAB, CIEDE2000 difference color, Whiteness indexes, color-difference thresholds
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