Tooth whitening kit with color samples

How Do I Know What Shade My Teeth Are?

Just as your natural hair color with its variations is unique to you, so is your tooth color. Genetic and environmental factors determine what color any given tooth is at any given time in your life. Some teeth might have a yellow tint. Some might be grayish. Some might have a hint of red or brown.

So, if you wish to whiten your teeth or need a tooth replaced with a prosthetic, you’d most likely want to know what color to achieve for a natural look.

That’s when a dental shade guide comes in handy.

What’s a Dental Shade Guide?

A frequently used reference tool, a shade guide shows teeth in basic shades ranging from lightest to darkest natural colors. Various shade guides exist for dental offices, but a common guide has four basic shade ranges to determine what shade your teeth are:

  • A (reddish-brown)
  • B (reddish-yellow)
  • C (gray)
  • D (reddish-gray)

Your dental professional will help you match your current tooth color to the corresponding color on the chart to:

  • Give you a starting point when you decide how much whiter you'd like your teeth to be. (Note: Some tooth shade guides also show even whiter colors you might achieve by bleaching your teeth.)
  • Determine the color of the prosthetic tooth.

What's the Best Tooth Shade?

A change of just two or three shades can make a noticeable difference in just about anyone's smile. But if you want the whitest shade possible, how many shades whiter should your teeth become? That depends on what you want to achieve, of course, but these other factors can play a role:

  • Your natural tooth color
  • The stubbornness of your tooth stains
  • The whitening treatment you choose or can afford

There's no one right way to whiten your teeth. You might prefer a more gradual whitening from using a whitening toothpaste or gel. Or you might want a more instant and dramatic change with bleaching products or procedures.

Keep in mind that each whitening procedure has its advantages and disadvantages. Laser whitening and other in-dental-office bleaching procedures, for example, might produce the most dramatic results, but they cost significantly more.

Whatever procedure you prefer, a dental shade guide makes it easy to determine your natural tooth color and choose the best color to achieve a brilliant smile.

This article is intended to promote understanding of and knowledge about general oral health topics. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your dentist or other qualified healthcare provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or treatment.

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