You’re Never Fully Dressed Without a Smile: Whitening 101
Until recently, I was a virgin — a tooth-whitening virgin, that is. Sure, I’d tried the occasional toothpaste with whitening "power," but I’d never dived into the hardcore world of bleach and dental trays.
The truth is, I was a little scared. But, since healthy teeth definitely fall into the category of wellness (OK, so pretty teeth make me feel better about myself, which contributes to my wellness), I decided to give whitening a try, for you.
My fabulous dentist, Nancy Ferrara, at Moores Mill Dental in Atlanta agreed to provide me with a discounted treatment in exchange for sharing what happened on the blog. So, I figured, “Why not?”
The main thing to know about whitening up front? It’s going to take time for you to see a change. And if you are like me and have some calcium spots (see the lovely photo above) built up on your teeth, you may not like the initial change that you see.
Let me explain. First, I tried the Sinsational Smiles treatment. I had to go in and sit in the dental office for somewhere around 30 minutes with trays in my mouth. No biggie. The thing is that the bleach significantly whitened those already white calcium spots, and so my teeth looked like they had white dots on them when I finished. I started to freak out until Dr. Ferrara explained that the brightness of the spots would diminish over the days to come, and they'd blend with my whiter teeth.
I was also given a whitening pen to use at home for a week or so. (You use the gel in the pen to fill in the front of some generic dental trays that come with it, and then stick the trays in your mouth for the given time period.)
I also had to avoid anything that might stain my teeth while I was whitening (and this goes for any whitening treatment I’m aware of), because the bleach makes your teeth more susceptible to staining. So, no red wine or tomato sauce. Boo.
At the end of the bleaching period, I didn’t notice much of a change. And here’s why: this particular treatment is designed for people who don’t have my 30+ years of tooth staining, meaning it’s not as strong as others. It’s probably better for 18 year olds who are interested in brightening up their pearly whites.
I returned to Dr. Ferrara and expressed my concerns to her (especially since I’d spent a bit of money on the procedure). She completely understood and suggested that I try the Lumibrite treatment, which involves getting custom trays made and using a stronger gel for a longer period of time.
For the next two weeks, I flossed and brushed without toothpaste (a suggestion by my dental team) about an hour before bed and would diligently fill in the fronts of my trays (BTW, less gel is better) and wear them for about 45 minutes. (The bleach can leave your teeth feeling sensitive, so I’d start out with 30 minutes and work your way up. Now, I can wear my trays for an hour and be OK. Another solution is to use a toothpaste like Sensodyne while you’re whitening.)
By the end of the two weeks, I was impressed. Now, I continue to whiten about once a month for upkeep and am pleased with the results. But the moral of the story is, if you have years of staining built up on your teeth, cut to the chase and spend the money to do the custom trays and the gel — the weaker treatments probably aren’t going to give you the results you’re looking for. This was a “fit” for me, and I will continue to spend money on it. After all, you’re never fully dressed without a smile!