Smile, Part 2: Tooth Whitening at 1st Advantage Dental in Northampton MA
Read part 1 here
Talk about good fortune: I was the lucky recipient of a complimentary tooth whitening session by local dentist (and former client of mine), Dr. Jyotika Dhawan from 1st Advantage Dental on King Street in Northampton. Dr. Dhawan uses the innovative Venus products (which she described as being much gentler than Zoom and similar whitening systems), and she wanted me to experience a whitening session for myself. I was game, so we set the appointment (somewhat miraculous, considering our respective crazy schedules!)
Let me start by saying that I am two things:
1. A total wuss about pain, especially dental pain (and I have wickedly sensitive teeth – I couldn’t even tolerate more than a few days of Crest White Strips!)
2. Insecure about many things, sure… but not so much about my teeth, as my natural tooth color has never really bothered me. (Dr. Dhawan confirmed that my teeth were already on the lighter end of the spectrum.)
Accordingly, I am a very odd candidate for cosmetic tooth bleaching. But when she suggested that I try it out in case a client ever asked me about it, I couldn’t pass up the opportunity!
I spent two surprisingly short appointments with Dr. Dhawan – first, to get my teeth fitted for trays (which hold the soothing gel that you use after a session to reduce any remaining sensitivity), and then for the actual whitening session itself. On both days, I was so impressed with her “chairside” manner – she explained everything she was doing and has a definite talent for relaxing her clients (and I am rarely relaxed at the dentist – I still pine for the days of nitrous oxide!) Even with an oral speculum in place, I was quite comfortable as she applied a protective barrier to my gums, kept my mouth very dry (no small task!), and proceeded to dab on the whitening compound. No UV lights are used for the Venus system; you just sit comfortably for about 15 minutes while it works its magic on your enamel.
I didn’t feel a thing until the last minute or so. And honestly, what I felt couldn’t even be described as pain – more like a twinge, a minor nerve annoyance (Dr. Dhawan called them “zingers”). But since it’s an unusual feeling, I was too anxious to continue – I had an early commercial shoot the next morning and was afraid I’d be too distracted by my sensitized teeth to concentrate on my work. (Such a wuss!) So we stopped after one round, and Dr. Dhawan applied the soothing gel to my tooth trays and I bit down on them, which was very satisfying and immediately alleviated the minor discomfort. I kept the trays in place for about half an hour afterwards, and once I removed them, I ate a bowl a soup with no trouble at all. And then I promptly forgot about the trays and gel, because I no longer needed them – within a few hours after my session, I was fully recovered!
Dr. Dhawan provided me with everything I needed in a gift bag: comfort gel, whitening toothpaste (including an innovative new brand designed to reduce sensitivity), and two bottles of clear mouthwash (much better for freshly bleached teeth than green!) She followed up with me afterwards to make sure everything was comfortable and to see whether I had any questions about maintenance. I was so impressed with her professionalism and follow-through.
Because I only did a single 15-minute round of bleaching before the minor twinges made me too nervous to continue, the results are very subtle (normally clients would do between 3 and 4 applications) – but I still saw a result, especially on my front teeth, which I attempted to capture below. Thanks to the maintenance products she provided, the effect has lasted, even as I sit here cluelessly drinking coffee and probably staining them anew.
In hindsight, I wish I’d toughed it out for at least one more round – I had no idea the twinges would go away within an hour of my appointment, and I could have tolerated many more “zingers” than I did. But hopefully this gives you an idea of what’s possible:
So if you’re self-conscious about your tooth color and haven’t had luck with at-home/over-the-counter systems, I would absolutely recommend seeing a professional like Dr. Dhawan for a whitening session – it was nowhere near as uncomfortable as I thought it would be, and anything that makes people more willing to smile is OK by me!