A friend of mine is currently doing teeth-whitening. I told her that her teeth were white enough already, like this: “Smile at me,” I demanded, and when she did, I shielded my eyes with my hands, winced, and screamed, “Oh GOD! The pain! The shining gleaming light from your super-bright teeth is searing my eyeballs! Please, make it stop!”
Isabel was alarmed and started to faux-cry, unsure whether or not to panic: “MAMA!” she wailed. “Are your eyeballs really burning up? Are her teeth really doing that?”
“No, sweetie,” I said, hugging her, “Of course not. Mommy is just joking. You know how I like to joke around.”
“Some of your jokes are NOT FUNNY!” she shouted indignantly. I hugged her harder, but when she looked away, I mimicked blocking my eyes again and writhing in imaginary pain.
My friend laughed, because she does appreciate my humor, but she said she was still proceeding with her plan to whiten.
As you may have heard, things like coffee and soda are NOT good for helping teeth stay white, and so – in order to maximize her whitening and yet still enjoy her daily java, this friend started drinking her hot coffee with a straw. This is a perfect opportunity to make lots of jokes. Try it! “Do you want a straw with that coffee?” is just a starter.
It sound silly, maybe, to go through such contortions just for whiter teeth, but I get it. I’ve tried the teeth-whitening in the past myself and made my own adjustments. Here’s MY fun story of the lifestyle modifications *I* had to make during my whitening process.
A few years back, I got a kit from my dentist called "Day White" that supposedly, within 14 days, would make your teeth pearly bright and sunshine-shiny. I had custom trays made for my upper and lower teeth; they were plastic molds form-fit to my teeth. I filled them with whitening gel from special gel syringes located in my "Day White" pack, attached them to my teeth, and left them on for ~40 minutes 2X/day. Voila! - said the instructions. The teeth should gradually get whiter and whiter!
It SOUNDED simple and easy. However, there were issues. Number one issue: Spit! You may not currently realize it, but your mouth is a busy spit factory all day long. In fact, your mouth may right now be making copious quantities of spit. You don't notice it, of course, because you are able to swallow at will, whenever you want, without worrying about troublesome gel trays filled with bleach solution that will leach bleach into your mouth if they get the tiniest bit wet from spit.
The first time I put in the trays, I was excited and happy. About 45 seconds later, my happiness turned to concern. Spit seemed to be filling the corners of my mouth like a broken faucet, and I could taste bleach on my tongue as the stuff washed out of the trays. Panicked, I ran to the bathroom and removed the trays, wondering if I'd inserted them wrong. I hadn't. The woman depicted on the cover of the box smiled at me, mouth agleam, revealing no personal spit issues of her own, and I hated her. I tried again: filled the things with gel (smaller amount than asked for), put them in, and a few seconds later my mouth was again a spit/bleach wonderland.
I called the dentist to ask about advice. "Does anyone complain about salivating during the 45 minutes they're wearing the trays?" I asked.
"Well, no, they surely don't!" said the aide. "I've never heard of that problem before. Maybe you just have excess spit!"
"Well, what do you recommend I do?" I asked her.
"I guess I don't KNOW!" she said, perkily. "Can you hold?"
Fifteen minutes later, with no advice, I started to devise my own solution. I got a washrag from the towel cabinet and took it with me. After I put in the trays, I gently tucked one of the 4 pointy washcloth corners under my tongue and packed washcloth down along the bottom sides of my mouth. This was going to function as my own spit-blocking device. Ever few minutes I rotated the washcloth as areas filled up with spit. It worked!
So every day when I whitened my teeth, I simply took a washcloth and hung it from my mouth. Sometimes, to alleviate pressure from the weight of a hanging washcloth, I tucked the hanging ends into the collar of my shirt. Very attractive!
One day, I was opening the door to let my cat Sashes outside. I happened to be wearing my bleach trays at the time as well as the ubiquitous washcloth. It was a pink washcloth that probably clashed with my gym sweats, but it tucked nicely into my Hawaii print T-shirt. At that moment, as I leaned out the door, the washcloth untucked itself and swung gently in the breeze like fresh laundry on the line. As it was swinging there, the Orkin Pest Control guy walked up the driveway. "Howdy there," he called out. "I'm here for your regular insect spray service!" He noticed the washcloth in my mouth and tried not to act surprised.
I took the washcloth out of my mouth. "He-ho," I said. (It's hard to talk with bleach trays in your mouth.)
"Have you noticed any pest problems?" he asked, looking at his clipboard. "Not reawy, I sink," I answered. A fly buzzed around and I swatted at it with the washcloth. The Orkin Guy looked really hard at his clipboard.
"Do you want me to spray inside?" he asked.
"Not sis time, I don't weally need it," I said, and to my horror, spit started to run down the corners of my mouth. "I have to go," I added, and closed the door quickly.
I guess I COULD have explained about the gel trays, but it seemed too much of an effort, and it would have just exacerbated the drool issue. I figured that he'd surely seen worse, and anyway, he'd probably assume that my weirdness was just a neurological symptom of toxic pesticide overload.
The whitening, even with all of my fancy washcloth maneuvers, didn’t seem to do much. My friend’s whitening, likewise, does not seem to have made great changes in her mouth (although, like I mentioned at the beginning of my post, her teeth were pretty white to start with.) We’re not sure if the whole whitening industry is something cooked up by dentists just to make more money, or if we are just whitening-challenged. In either case, because I still DO want whiter teeth, I might have to opt for the laser whitening treatments, or — if I’m interested in the budget version – just buy a bottle of Liquid Paper.