Tooth Whiteness Scale

Written & Reviewed by Dr David Chen

The color of your teeth are on a spectrum of whiteness in that they can be darker or lighter. Evidence of that can be seen by how not everyone has the same color teeth. Of course we all think that the person with whiter teeth is more aesthetically pleasing which is why teeth whitening is so popular.

Are you curious as to how white your teeth are? Your dentist has a tooth whiteness scale which they call a “shade guide” to determine what color your teeth are. You may be surprised by how white and how dark teeth can get!

Commonly used shade guide to determine whiteness

One of the most common shade guides that are used to determine the color or whiteness of your teeth is by VITA. The classic shade guide categorizes teeth with a letter and a number. Typically the lower the number value, the lighter the teeth are. Inversely, the higher the number the darker the teeth are.

VITA tooth shade classic

As you can see from the photo above of the VITA classical shade guide, B1 is the whitest tooth shade. Overall, you can tell that most of the colors with a “1” next to them are lighter than the ones with a “4”. Basically the lower the number value the whiter your teeth are.

However, we do want you to be aware that this shade guide is fairly representative of natural colored teeth. The reason is because there is actually a bleached shade guide, which takes the tooth whiteness scale to a whole new level.

What do the letters in the shade guide mean?

The numbers in the tooth color guide represent the value and therefore the lightness of the color. The letters represent more of the chroma and hue of the color.

The A shades: They tend to be reddish brown in color.

The B shades: They are reddish yellow in color.

The C shades: Have a greyish tone to them.

The D Shades: Tends to look reddish grey.

What about B1 vs A1 in whiteness?

The B1 shade is the whitest one but it is often compared to the A1 shade. Overall, we would have to say that the B1 is slightly whiter than the A1 shade but they are fairly close in lightness.

A1 vs b1 tooth color

If you’re choosing a natural color for your teeth, you really can’t go wrong with either of them. Both the B1 or A1 will look very natural in your mouth.

Bleached shade guide

Since teeth whitening is so popular and prominent in mainstream media, some people have managed to whiten their teeth beyond the natural level. This level of tooth whiteness is not quite natural but it is desirable by the general populace.

There is a specific shade guide that is meant to match highly bleached colored teeth.

VITA 3D master shade guide

The bleached shades are located on the far left. These shades are organized from the lightest on the left to the darkest on the right. Since there is a gradual change in color going from left to right, you may not notice how big of a difference that actually is.

Thus, we’ve placed the bleached shades next to the darkest shades so that you can see the difference. These are the shades with a “0” number value compared to ones with a “5” value on the tooth whiteness scale.

Bleached tooth shade vs darkest tooth shade

Pretty stark difference if we do say so ourselves. The bleached shades are definitively whiter than the darkest natural tooth shade.

Wasn’t B1 the whitest tooth shade?

B1 is the whitest natural tooth shade but it is not the whitest on the absolute tooth whiteness scale. If you compare it to the bleached colors, you will be able to tell that it is not the whitest.

B1 vs whitest bleached tooth shade

The photo above shows the B1 shade vs the 0M1 shade which is the whitest tooth shade known to man. The bleached shade is definitely whiter than the B1.

B1 vs darkest bleached tooth shade

We can also compare the B1 shade to the least white bleached shade 0M3. The darkest bleached shade is still whiter than the B1.

The point that we’re trying to make is that the bleached shades are very white, almost to the point that it is unnaturally so. Nonetheless it is still a DESIRED whiteness for teeth.

the 3 bleach teeth shades

Here is one last picture showing the three whitest bleached shades all by themselves. You can observe that there is a difference in whiteness among the three.

Is it possible to whiten your teeth to the bleached shade?

If your goal is to attain the 0M1 tooth shade, teeth whitening may or may not get you there. You can try aggressively whitening them with your dentist and see what happens.

Just be aware that there may be limitations to how white your teeth can get. If you don’t get there you shouldn’t be too disappointed because it is an unnatural color to begin with. If you can at least reach the A1 or B1 range from the whitening, we would still call that a success.

Most of the hollywood smiles that have super white bleached teeth are mostly due to veneers. Yes, they willingly shaved down the front side of their teeth and covered it with a piece of thin porcelain to make them as white as they can be.

If you want to see a gallery of celebrities with veneers and their absurdly white teeth, please check out Mirror. Those are 100% not from teeth whitening but definitely 100% due to veneers.


Your dentist has a tooth whiteness scale which they use to determine the color of your teeth. They use this so that they know what color tooth filling to use and also for if you need a crown or veneers.

The whitest natural color for teeth is the B1 shade but there is an unnatural bleached shade that is even whiter than that. The whitest bleached shade is 0M1. It is fairly unlikely for you to reach that level of whiteness with just teeth whitening. You may need to get dental veneers in order to reach that level of whiteness which is commonly referred to as “hollywood white”.


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