Adventures in…Teeth Whitening

Warning: if the subject of teeth, the mouth or “gross” things like that make you squeamish, skip this blog! Nothing too graphic beyond some brutal honesty.

This whole thing started because of a tweet Nora made last week, stating that she had a 1k of cavities to go fill, because she hadn’t been to the dentist in a few years – which had me slightly panicking, as I realized I hadn’t gone myself since I last spent considerable time in Canada, in 2009/2010. And I will be the First to admit, I simply have never had great teeth habits. My mother was forever yelling at me about it when I was a kid, and I’ve really struggled with it all my life.

Habits, however I have learned, Can Be Changed – with enough will power and drive behind it. (see goals of getting more active/in control over my weight/eating habits, not Just because of the wedding and the dress either!) So while I’d already been getting better about brushing, I have always lived in fear of cavities, and what comes after – the root canals. And yet, that fear hadn’t been enough to get me on to a proper teeth regiment: Brushing twice a day AND flossing. What can I say, I’m lazy.

So skip forward, I made an appointment for this week and discovered if you mention in your appointment request you are abut to get married, they may toss your whitening in for free. Now, I did not play the “wedding card” intentionally, just provided it as I was talking to the Office Manager (who, it turns out, went through the greencard process with her ex husband and so felt my pain), and she was like, well, if we can get you in quickly, I can give it to you for free…and to your husband as well.. I’m not going to turn that kind of offer down, because I’m pretty sure casting the mold of my teeth for the whitening trays are Not free, nor is the actual product (I’m using DayWhite, 38%, which if used correctly and consistently for one week, should get my teeth pretty nice for the wedding. Or at least that’s the plan. Apparently, my teeth are on the “whitish side” already, though that’s probably due more to dumb luck, since I’m not a big coffee or red wine drinker – but I digress…)

They took the casting first, which I’ve had done several times through out my life, for various reasons. The taste and texture of that shit has not improved in the slightest. Then began the “fun” part, including discovering that while my teeth on the surface are actually fine (no cavities!!), below the gums I’m starting to get into some concerning territory. I’ve been told before that my gums (which look fine to the naked eye) are inflamed because they’re hiding what could eventually be some serious tartar issues. At the appointment on Tues, they were so bad that the dental hygienist decided that to spread out the pain to manageable levels, she was going to knock as much of the crap off with a hydronic thing (something I don’t ever remember them using in Canada…oh dear god the noise…makes me want to scratch my eyes and ears out and cringe all at the same time), and turn let my gums heal for a while before I have to go back in for a “deep cleaning”. I could have waited up to a month, but I figured since I’ll Hopefully be starting work shortly after PAX, might as well handle this kind of stuff now, while my days are more open. So not only did I have to go back to the office this morning to grab the whitening stuff (which they rushed for me, so I’d have plenty of time before the wedding), but I’ll be back there next week for the second, deeper cleaning. FUN TIMES. NOT.

Oh well, perhaps I’ll finally get some better habits – I need to brush AND floss right before I use the whitening thing so…

In prepping to do the first whitening treatment tonight, I was reminded as to why I HATE flossing. I tend to use either the ribbon or traditional floss, and because I have a small mouth (yes, go ahead and get over the jokes running through your head, I’ll wait until you come back…) my teeth are Super crowded, and thus I feel some serious pressure when trying to shove the floss down between my various teeth. I’m not sure how common that is, but I’m clearly going to have to come up with something, I don’t want to get to the point where I loose bone in my jaw because of the gum/tartar issue. (Also, if that wasn’t stomach turning enough, go look up all the Nasty stuff about gingivitis and periodontal issues. Ugh, my stomach is not happy after reading about all of that…) I’m already probably going to be making dentist visits every three months until my teeth are back to being in good shape…however, it really is my own fault, and I’ll just have to deal. It really COULD have been worse, and at least Most of it is covered under the dental plan.

Ok, on to the whitening part.

Getting the gel into the trays was an interesting experience the first time, lots of stuff eventually escaped when I put them on my teeth, so I adjusted where I put the gel the next night, (though then I don’t think I used enough). You need to wipe that extra gel off pretty quickly or else it can irritate (or in extreme cases, burn) your gum line, which mine were already in less then awesome shape. The first day I was told to make sure I only wore the trays for 15 mins max (which I spent starting this blog), to establish if I was going to have any kind of reaction…if I didn’t, I could up the time I was wearing the trays to 30 mins. Any more at one time, and apparently the amount used is not effective. The first night I hadn’t figured out how not to really swallow the crap, and my throat was not happy with me the next morning, but I found that by breathing with my mouth open the second time, I swallowed much less of the stuff.

I’m currently on a train to Eugene OR, to watch my friend Kristen Maloney, graduate from the University of Oregon tomorrow and I’m slightly panicking because I can’t remember if I packed the trays and stuff. I remember futzing with them while I was packing, which leads me to believe I have, but I’ll find out tonight when we get to my father-in-law’s house where we’re crashing for the weekend. If not, I’ll just be a few days behind. I definitely can’t notice any change yet, but when I picked the kits up, we “measured” visually as to what colour we thought my teeth started at. I’ll have them do it again on Thursday when I go back, hopefully there’ll be some decent change.
If nothing else, I have stuck with the formation of new brushing habits so far. You know, for three days. But it’s a start!