I’m sure that if I’d put a bit more effort into it, I could’ve thunk up a slightly better title for this post but, from the minute that working title popped into my head, I’ve been unable to stop mentally singing Free at the top of my (inner) voice so I’m sticking with it.
On to the main event.
I’ve been doing a little bit of DIY this week, Sarah fans. Not in the standard home-improvements sense, but rather the self-improvement variety. A worthwhile investment indeed.
My lovely dentist (at The Cosmetic Dental Clinic) has given me a Philips Zoom! NiteWhite whitening treatment to try . I already have a set of impressions taken from my teeth and whatnot, and I believe that can be the expensive part of these kinds of tailored whitening treatments. I think they offer the full service for a few hundred quid normally. But don’t quote me on that.
The kit includes a case for my ‘trays’ (not actually using that but never mind), a booklet of instructions, a Shade Guide to monitor progress on and a case of the syringes. The syringes are filled with the whitening goo. The idea is fairly straightforward. You twist and snap the top off, twist on the mixer top and push the plunger to dispense the gel. There are markers on the syringes to show you how much you should be using. The gel is in two separate cylinders but as you push the nozzle combines the two to activate it. Unlike some other brands, this means that the gel cannot go off while not in use because the two gels will not mix until you actually use them. You squeeze a tiny amount into each ‘tooth’ of your specially made trays and put ’em in. It’s that easy. With your teeth now in their tooth holes the whitening goo will splurge up to the tops of your teeth so that it covers the whole tooth. Then you go to bed. Simple. You wake up the next morning, brush your teeth and the trays with lukewarm water and you’re good to go. Your teeth should be whiter from the first time you use it, although you’re supposed to keep using it for 7-14 days. My dentist reckons that he’s never seen teeth get any whiter after about day 10 so apparently I should stop there and save the rest for top ups. He gave me a set of 3 syringes of 10% Carbamide Peroxide gel and 3 of the 16%. This is just the strength of the whitening gel. Obviously the 16% will work a lot faster and be lighter than the 10%, but you really have to gauge the sensitivity of your teeth and see what you can get away with without crying at your desk (I came close on day 7…) from the pain.
Speaking of the pain, I’d heard some rumours and scare stories but, because I’m a dick I thought I’d barely notice. Not strictly true.
Day One was smooth. Easy riding. A tiny twinge of sensitivity around 9am, having removed the whitener at around 8am. I got cocky and the next day was slightly more painful, and then Day Three was more sensitive again. Then by Day Four, Five and Six it seemed to level out, aided by the Colgate Sensitive toothpaste I’d started using, and I was confident again that I could totally handle this. I’d reached the end of my first syringe and decided to take it up a notch. I started on the 16% syringe. God, I’m hard.
I woke on the morning of Day Seven feeling fine. I brushed my teeth, showered, drank an Actimel probiotic drink (coconut flavour obvs), scoffed a few flapjacks and brushed my teeth again. This kind of thing certainly promotes good dental hygiene! I hopped behind the wheel, pootled off to work and got on with my daily duties. The pain slowly crept up on me. I found I was pulling a variety of deeply unattractive but completely involuntary and necessary faces to try to ease my discomfort. Nothing was working. It was like the sensitivity pain you get if you bite into an ice lolly, but it wouldn’t go away. I could hardly think about anything beyond my own mouth and hiding the pain I felt. I mentioned it to my colleague a few times when I caught myself pulling some of the worst faces, lest she think I was having some sort of seizure. I tried taking some paracetamol and ate my room-temperature lunch really slowly. I sorrowfully wondered why on earth we put ourselves through these kinds of things in the name of beauty.
However by the time I got home at 6:30pm the sensitivity was starting to ease, and by the next day had almost entirely gone. I decided to skip that night’s treatment and start again with a 10% syringe the next night. Even though that totally makes me feel like I’ve wimped out.
Upon actually checking my teeth, and following a few of Mr SB’s comments, I was surprised to find that even after only 7 days of whitening my teeth are at the top end of the Zoom! Shade Guide, whereas before, although far from hideous, they were definitely nearer the middle. Ew.
The only other trauma was the strict diet rules. It’s ‘recommended’ that you do not eat or drink anything that would “stain a white t-shirt” while undergoing the treatment. This is largely because while the whitening is doing it’s thing your teeth are not totally protected by their usual enamel and it takes up to 48 hours after using the Philips gloop for your teeth to remineralise (or something else science-y). Until then, if you were to drink coffee or red wine for example, your teeth would work like a sponge and just suck up all that pigment. Basically, you’d end up with worse teeth than you had when you started. Definitely a golden rule. So no wine(!), coffee, tea, beetroot etc. Stick to white foods where you can, and foods with no colouring added. Which was kind of frustrating but, hey, it’s only a week or so. Not impossible. There are plenty of things to eat which don’t involve staining your teeth.
So kids, here’s the deal; I am not in a hurry to repeat the process again immediately because I just was NOT expecting the sensitivity, but I have not been put off forever. I will be keeping the rest of these syringes in my drawer for later. If one day of pain and paracetamol means whiter teeth for a long, long time then yeah, I’ve done worse things for a long term gain so that concept makes perfect sense to me. Sometimes, daft and old fashioned though it sounds, you do have to suffer to be beautiful. Or, y’know, if not beautiful then at least a teensy bit better looking than I was last week…
P.S. I know you’re probably wondering where the ‘before and after’ photos are, but I don’t put any pictures of my actual real-life face on sarahbosson.com. Just because I like to keep a degree of anonymity (as much as one can when the URL is one’s full name).
However if you scuttle over to my Instagram (link at the tip top of the page) or click here, you will find my teeth, and in fact my whole face, on there. Savvy?