As I noted in my last post, I recently splurged on a superficial “Brite Smile” treatment to attempt turning my not-so pearly whites closer to white. The treatment, available at dental spas across the country, costs anywhere from $299 to $600, depending on if you can catch a good sale. I had been oogling the quick tooth whitening ever since seeing the sign for it at my dentists’ office years ago. But I couldn’t bring myself to spend the money.
Once I decided I would take the financial plunge last year, I went in to a local dental spa for a free consultation about the process. To be honest, the dentist lady freaked me out. She was just so fake nice, and I wanted to punch her. Regardless, she made me feel bad enough about my teeth that I wanted to spend the money on the process. Still, it was $400 and I wanted to wait for that $299 special that comes up once a year or so… (I read about it online.) So I waited, and the receptionist lady constantly e-mailed me asking if I wanted to schedule an appointment. They seemed desperate (not a good sign.) I told her to contact me if they ever had a $299 special. Around the holidays they had just the bargain I was looking for. So I decided to go for it.
That’s when I started to read all these horror stories about the process online…
Few people who had Brite Smile done said it was worth the money. What’s worse, most of them said you get this awful pain for 24 hours after getting the treatment that’s so bad you want to die. I’ll admit that scared me a bit, but after looking at my yellow teeth in the mirror day in and day out, I was willing to take on the pain. Or so I told myself.
I set up an appointment (surely the dental spa was thrilled to be making the money) and prepared myself for pain. I took a few too many ibuprofen before my treatment, and then when I went to the dental office and the receptionist/assistant asked if I had taken any, I said no and got more. I didn’t overdose, really, but I took more than the recommended dose… which seemed to work on the pain during the treatment.
They took a “before” picture of my fugly teeth, and also showed me what shade my teeth were on this scale of yellow teeth. Then, they set me up for the process. This dental spa thing was weird… they started with an aromatherapy treatment. The dental assistant, who ended up doing the entire treatment, turned into a hippie massage therapist. “Breath in the aromas and relax.” Weird. I tried not to laugh. Next, they propped open my mouth and prepared my teeth for bleaching. That part was pretty much what I had read from other people’s experiences – not comfortable but not totally uncomfortable either. They put on music for me to listen to and the first 20 minute session of zapping my teeth began.
What I feared most were the “zingers” that I read about online. They happen during the treatment and worse, after, I read. The treatment consisted of 4 20 minute sessions. Time definitely did not go fast enough. The first session was fine. I listened to a musical theater station on rhapsody and barely felt a thing. Towards the end I felt a little bit of a vibration in my teeth but nothing painful.
After 20 minutes, the weird dental assistant lady came back and repainted my teeth with bleach. She informed me that the pain people complain about is when the gauze comes up and stops protecting the gums, so I shouldn’t worry about that, only to look in my mouth and say, without much concern, “that gauze just doesn’t want to stay down.”
The second and third treatments were ok. I was bored, and the warn vibration sensation got a bit stronger, but nothing painful.
Then came the fourth session.
Fuck that hurt.
So the dental assistant told me at the beginning that if I need anything to just put my hands out and someone would be right there. The dental spa didn’t have enclosed rooms, so basically people were walking by all the time, supposedly. About 10 minutes into my fourth treatment I felt one of those shooting zingers. I wanted to tough it out, but it hurt a lot. Like biting into ice times a billion. So it went away and I hoped for the best. Then another one came a few minutes later. I cringed. About 16 minutes into the treatment they started to come more frequently. I waited as long as I could, but at some point I couldn’t take it… so I started to wave my hands. First calmly. Then frantically as the machine jolted me, also making some sort of noise with all the stuff in my mouth (i was really saying “HELP” but you couldn’t make that out).
What seemed like forever later, another nurse came over to see why I was making a fuss. She stopped the machine. At that point there was only about 3 minutes left and the dental assistant informed me that wouldn’t make much of a difference, so I could stop.
Good, I thought. I made it through the treatment; I’m a survivor.
She took all the gauze and such out of my mouth and showed me a mirror. My teeth were really white. I was so happy. They tried to sell me a bunch of Brite Smile products (to keep your teeth white) but I declined spending $100 on toothpaste and mouthwash.
I knew my teeth would dull down over the week (I read that people often do not see a difference after the color settles a week later, even if they see great white teeth the first day) so I did not get my hopes up too much. Still, I couldn’t help but smile. Smile all the way to the supermarket, where I was going to fill my Vicodin perscription.
Yes, I asked for Vicodin. Well, I asked, before the treatment, for a strong painkiller. I mentioned that I was worried about what I read. The dentist who spoke to me at the beginning said that if I was really concerned she’d write me a prescription for Vicodin. Thank fucking goodness she did.
When I got to the supermarket, the “zingers” started to kick in. I put my prescription in right away, but it took 15 minutes to fill so I was left to walk around the supermarket and wait. I enjoyed seeing my bright white reflection around the supermarket, and seeking out “white food” (I was only allowed to eat white/non-colored foot for the first 24 hours after getting the procedure done)… and then, bam. Zap. This shooting pain hit my tooth and rattled my brain. I wanted to laugh, because it was just what I had read about, but I just clenched and started to get nervous about waiting for the prescription to be filled.
A few more awful zingers later, I got my Vicodin. I took it right away. It helped a little, but not a lot. For the next 24 hours or so I’d have those zingers. I’d go to the bathroom and look in the mirror at my teeth to remind myself why I had spent $300 on such agony.
After 24 hours, I was fine. My teeth still looked pretty white, so I was happy. A week later, they got a bit yellower. Now, I think they’ve gone back to yellow but my boyfriend says they still look whiter then they were. They definitely aren’t AS yellow as they were to begin with. I’m very self conscious about my teeth so ultimately I’m glad I spent the money on this. I probably could have got equally good results with Whitestrips, but I always forget to wear those. This was a quick hit for whiter teeth. It hurt like a bitch, I’m not gonna lie, but it was worth waiting for that $299 special. At least I can now read all the horror stories about people who spent $600 on the treatment and feel like I got a good deal.