That time I judged myself: Teeth whitening

I’m fairly handy with the tooth-whitening function of Picmonkey and similar photo editing tools, and maybe I should have just left it at that. But I didn’t. I did this instead: paid my dentist a lot of money to whiten my teeth.

I didn’t expect it to be fun, really, but neither was I prepared for it to hurt so much. Sure, it hurts to have your brows waxed, but that lasts less than a second. This hurt for a good hour. Painful (actual) dental work, surgery, childbirth — those are all to be borne with self-respect and stoicism, but this? I did this to myself, for vanity. I would have laughed at myself if my mouth could move.

Here’s what it is like:

I chose the fastest and most expensive option. I wanted it done right away; no weeks of sitting with goop on my teeth watching TV and drooling for me. This meant a long time in the dentist chair and chemicals you need a DDS to handle.

Me before:

beforeThe first step is to have molds made of your teeth. (If you’ve had braces or retainers, you are familiar with the sickly pink putty and gag reflex action that accompanies this task.)

The next is to have instruments of torture aka cheek separators installed so that your skin doesn’t come in contact with whatever (probably nuclear) substance they are going to paint on your teeth.

Then, your gums are protected with some other kind of goop and that has to set up.

Finally, we are ready to whiten. Some kind of something is painted on your teeth and then you wait while a timer winds down 20 minutes. A hygienist has to stay in the room with you; maybe patients must be supervised in case there’s a reaction or something? This put a cramp in my Buzzfeed surfing, as I might embarrass myself with my selections.

Oh wait. Got the embarrassing part covered.

teeth 2After the requisite 20 minutes, they clean the whitener off and check your progress. The dentist comes in a declares that another treatment is needed, and tells me that sometimes, though rarely, a third is as well. At this point I don’t care about what color my teeth are, I just want those braces out of my mouth. They hurt. Like, a lot. Like silent-tears-pooling-in-my-ears a lot.

Twenty more minutes drag by and this time my teeth hurt too, so it must be working. It HAS to be working, or I’m the dumbest girl ever to do this to myself. I sneak these pictures of myself because really, I need to write this post to atone for my vanity, and also I’m bored to death and need a distraction.

They clean it off again and the dentist declares my progress satisfactory. The gum protectors are peeled off and finally the plastic mouth-killers are removed.

I snuck this photo when the hygienist wasn’t looking (because dignity). It really did appear to work. The real proof was days later, when a phone photo of me with a friend revealed a sparkly smile that did not need retouching.

teeth 5I’m still not convinced it was worth it ($375 and an hour of pain), but I did get custom molds and four booster packs to go with it, so when my teeth get a little dingy again I can brighten them back up sans cheek and lip torture. The dentist told me that I should expect my teeth to stay white for a year or more, so with the boosters I think I could stretch it out to a few years.

Not that I do this to myself again. I’ll stick to white strips and Picmonkey, thanks, and save the torture for kettlebell class.

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