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A1 vs B1 Tooth Color Comparison

The A1 and B1 tooth shades are the lightest and whitest natural tooth colors in the VITA shade guide that is commonly used by dentists to compare teeth. They are not the same color and that is why they are named differently.


VITA tooth shade classic
Classical VITA shade guide

Table of contents:


B1 vs A1 differences

The colors B1 and A1 are considered to be the lightest out of the entire vita shade guide (tooth color chart) but there are two distinct differences. The B1 tooth color is noticeably whiter than A1 and they have a different hue from one another.


Key differences:

  • B1 is whiter than A1.

  • The A shades and B shades have different hues.



Which one is whiter?

The B1 tooth shade is definitely whiter than the A1 tooth color. Even to the untrained eye, our patients can spot the difference immediately when they look at it.


In fact, whenever we're picking a tooth color such as for a dental crown or veneer for our patients, their eyes always go straight towards B1. Patients just love the B1 color and always want it even if it doesn't match their adjacent teeth.


There are times where if their teeth are naturally more yellow, we just hide the B1 shade so they don't try to pick it! That is to prevent them from picking a color that is too white for them.


B1 vs A1 tooth color close up
B1 vs A1

We've provided a close up image of what A1 vs B1 looks like when they're right next to each other and isolated from the other colors.


A1 vs B1 tooth color
A1 vs B1

When they are side by side, the color difference between B1 and A1 isn't as great as your initial impression. Sure, the B1 looks whiter than the A1 but only ever so slightly but nonetheless the lightness is still visible.


They've different hues

Both shades, A1 and B1 are fairly "white" but their hue is different from one another. The A teeth shades are a reddish-brownish color while the B teeth shades are a reddish-yellow color.


VITA shade guide instructions sheet


Tooth Shade

Hue

A

Reddish brownish

B

Reddish yellowish


The hue refers to the dominant color family while the lightness of the color is the value. Both of these shades are very "light" in color but they fall on a different part of the color wheel. Albeit they are right next to each other on the wheel though.


hue-color-wheel
Credit: Color wheel artist

If you're having trouble understanding what we mean by that, the image below from virtual art academy does a good job visualizing it.


hue-saturation-value
Credit: virtual art academy

You didn't think that an oral health website would reference the arts did you? Well, it is an interdisciplinary field after all, especially when it comes to cosmetic dentistry which has a heavy focus on color and aesthetics.


 

Which color is better?

Unfortunately there is no objective answer for which tooth shade is better. Whether you like A1 or B1 are purely subjective. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. People will like whatever color that they like simply because they do.


However just to reiterate, the A1 tooth shade is just ever so slightly darker than the B1 shade. Although that doesn't necessarily make it better or worse.


Compared to darker tooth shades

If you're experiencing immense distraught over choosing the A1 or B1 and you literally can't decide because you don't want to make the wrong life decision... we've news for you. The difference between them isn't as great as you may think.


Both of them are still leagues lighter and whiter than the other colors in the VITA shade guide. Below is a picture of the A1 and B1 shades next to the A4 and B4 colors.


A1 and B1 vs A4 and B4 tooth shades
A1 and B1 vs A4 and B4 tooth shades

As you can see, the "1" shades are significantly whiter than the "4" shades. When compared side by side like this, it gives you perspective on your decision. You may be making mountains out of mole hills trying to decide between B1 and A1. As long as you don't get the color off by choosing the A4 or B4, you should be fine!


Compared to the average tooth color

To give you additional perspective, you should know that the average tooth shade is A2. What we mean by that is whenever we're choosing a crown color, the tooth color A2 is what we typically go with 80-90% of the time.


Below is an image of what B1 and A1 look like next to the A2 color.


A1 and B1 vs A2
A1 and B1 vs A2

Literally, the A2 tooth shade is the average teeth color for the vast majority of the American population. What we're trying to say is that you'd have an above average whiteness of teeth if you choose one of the "1" shades.


Which color should I choose?

Honestly, how white both of these two shades look are irrelevant because the color you should pick should match your teeth. If you pick a color that doesn't match the adjacent teeth, it would stick out like a sore thumb and it would be considered an aesthetic failure.


The whole point of picking out a tooth shade is to make it blend in seamlessly with the rest of your dentition. That way no one even knows that you had any dental work done. Therefore the color that you should pick would depend on what the natural color of your teeth are.


So, we only have one question for you. What color are your teeth?


If you don't like the color, you should consider professional teeth whitening first before you do any restorative dental treatment. That means it would be prudent to whiten your teeth prior to getting crowns or veneers.


You could potentially whiten your teeth beyond B1. Yes, the tooth whiteness scale does go further than that! The color or whiteness beyond the natural range is commonly referred to as the "hollywood whites" since celebrities love white teeth.


The Verdict

The tooth shade B1 is whiter than A1 but only by a slight margin. The difference has to do with their respective hue rather than their value (lightness).


However, the difference between them is quite small when you put them into perspective. That is when you compare them to the A4 or B4 shades and also when compared to the average tooth color A2.


As per our dentists in Long Island City, we believe you can't go wrong with either choice because they're both great colors.

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About the author: Dr David Chen, DDS

Hello, I'm Dr Chen and I'm an actively practicing dentist in Long Island City, NY. I graduated from Columbia University College of Dental Medicine in 2016 but prior to going to dental school I was already working in the dental field. It's been more than a decade since I first got to know dentistry and let me tell you, time flies by quickly. Since then I've developed a fondness for writing, which is how this all got started!

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Medical Disclaimer:

This blog is purely meant for information purposes and should not be used as medical advice. Each situation in your mouth is unique and complex. It is not possible to give advice nor diagnose any oral conditions based on text nor virtual consultations. The best thing to do is to go in person to see your dentist for an examination and consultation so that you can receive the best care possible.

The purpose of all of this oral health information is to encourage you to see your dentist and to inform you of what you may expect during your visit. Due to the unfortunate nature of dentistry, there isn't really any true home remedies that will get rid of dental problems. Roughly 99.99% of them require in-person intervention by a healthcare professional.

Hint: That is the reason why you can't eliminate seeing dentists in your life!

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