I’m getting ready to get my veneers would BL4 be too white or would it be natural looking? Thank you!
Wayfon from North Carolina
(See Dr. Hall’s answer below.)
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For the benefit of our readers, the BL shades were developed by Ivoclar some years ago after tooth bleaching became popular, and they are whiter than teeth are found naturally. BL1 is the whitest, and BL4 is only slightly whiter than the whitest natural shade.
When I did a smile makeover for one of my patients, I had a little questionnaire I gave them where I asked them questions about how they wanted their new smile to look. One of those questions was about the color they wanted. I asked them to rate, on a scale of 1 to 10, whether they wanted a white color or a natural color. Marking a “1” indicated that they wanted bright white teeth. Marking a “10” indicated that they wanted a more subdued color that didn’t stand out and made it look like there was nothing artificial.
You sound to me like, had you been my patient, you would have marked something between a “4” and a “6”—you want it as white as you can go with keeping it still looking natural. With you feeling that way, I would have recommended, as your cosmetic dentist, a shade B1 on the classic shade guide. With a “7” or “8,” I would have suggested an A1 shade. With a “9” or “10,” I may have gone to maybe halfway between an A1 and an A2. While my patients generally ended up very satisfied, over the long term, with the color we had helped them choose, I did have one smile makeover patient in the early days of my practice who chose the A2 shade and then later told me that she regretted not getting something whiter.
To help you see this, I have an image here of the Ivoclar bleach shade guide with shade tabs for A1 and B1 on the classic shade guide pasted next to it, for comparison. A1 is typically the whitest we would see in patients, but there would be some with very white teeth who would have shade B1 naturally. B1 is a common shade of baby teeth but not very common in adult teeth. While keeping in mind that the photographs of these shade guides may have been taken under different lighting conditions, it is still apparent that the BL4 is noticeably whiter than the B1. So if you truly want your smile to look bright but natural, I wouldn’t go whiter than B1. With BL4 you will have lovely white teeth, but they may look somewhat whiter than natural and it may look to people like you have had work done on your teeth to make them that white. Having said that, I had some patients who really wanted bright white teeth that would almost light up a room. We would give them BL1, which we nicknamed “ballistic white,” (some offices call that “Hollywood white”) and they were very happy with them. It all depends on your personality. You have to decide what kind of impression you want to make with people. If you want your bright smile to be noticeable, I would go with the whiter look. If you want them looking lovely but not advertise that you have had work done, I would stick with B1.
I hope that’s helpful.
– Dr. Hall
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About David A. Hall
Dr. David A. Hall was one of the first 40 accredited cosmetic dentists in the world. He practiced cosmetic dentistry in Iowa, and in 1990 earned his accreditation with the American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry. He is now president of Infinity Dental Web, a company in Mesa, Arizona that does advanced internet marketing for dentists.