How bright are some people's teeth getting after being treated by the latest power-whitening systems?

i8, that's how bright.

i8 is the whitest, lightest, brightest shade appearing on Densply Ceramco's Illumine {trade} White Shades, a new color-matching set developed to accommodate leading-edge power-whitening. The Burlington, N.J., maker of dental restoration products developed White Shades to make it easier for dentists ordering crowns, bridges and other mouthware to specify the color of their client's whitened teeth.

Linda Niessen, a geriatric dentist and spokesperson for Densply Ceramco, says that before the new guide was developed she had difficulty ordering dental restorations because some shades she needed to match bleached teeth were not represented on the industry's standard Vita Shade Guide. She would have to describe the tooth's particular whiteness using words and other approximations. Now, she says, she can simply order by number.

Illumine's i8 is nearly as white as a business card; this newspaper page is about i2.

Vident's Vita Shade Guide, the industry standard for the past 50 years, is a plastic base that holds 16 simulated tooth samples in graded shades of white. Samples are grouped by color -- natural teeth can have gray or even reddish-yellow undertones -- and their degree of brightness.

Richard Price, a dentist and consumer advisor for the American Dental Association, said he's not surprised that new products are being developed to meet the increasing number of super-white teeth. He first spotted the trend about four years ago when dental supply companies began making brighter filling material to match bleached teeth.

But, Price said, some patients are ignoring their dentists' recommendations to maintain a natural look and instead over-whitening to shades usually found in plastic or porcelain. "For some people, bleaching takes the color of their teeth out of the natural spectrum," Price said.

The Vita Shade Guide already had some pretty bright samples, he said. In 30 years of practicing dentistry, Price said, he never ordered a restoration in B-l, the guide's brightest shade. "It would look," he said, "like a Chicklet."

-- Diane Knich

Shade samples nature can't touch.