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Even though I’ve decided to put teeth whitening on hold, this doesn’t mean I’m not interested in it.

Heard a short piece on NPR this morning on this comparison between whitening techniques.  I guess the big difference between the in-office light-activated and the gels that you get from the dentist or pharmacy is a matter of price and time.

Read/listen to the piece here: A Simple Formula for Whitening Your Teeth.


I tried the Crest Whitestrips a second, on the top teeth, about 2 weeks ago.  That time I got the same pings as the first time (read the first time report), but didn’t feel the strong tightness in shoulders/neck or nausea of the first time.

However, since then I have been sick with a tenacious cold.  So even though the cold is most likely unrelated to the Whitestrips, I have a bad feeling about them.

I stay as healthy as possible by maximizing the health-promoting things I put in my body–organic food, mostly veggies–and minimizing the not good things.  And with my dental care, I’ve been as non/low-toxic as possible.  Unfortunately, these Whitestrips deviate from that.  They don’t feel compatible with my commitment to sustainable health.

So I’m shelving the Whitestrips.  Vanity loses at this point.

Yesterday afternoon, I tried the first Crest Whitestrips, to try to whiten my teeth.

The following is an account of the experience.

  • I rinsed out my mouth and brushed lightly without toothpaste, then dried my top teeth with a towel.
  • I applied the strip to the top teeth only, per the directions on the package.  It was fairly easy to do.
  • I felt two twinges on one tooth at the beginning, but no teeth pain afterward.
  • About 15 minutes in, I started to feel discomfort in my neck/shoulders.  A tightness and a very slight nausea.

I think my body is not happy about having these chemicals in my mouth.  I’ve been using Crest toothpaste for the past few weeks because we had a tube leftover somehow, but otherwise, for the last five years or so, I have only used “healthier” dental care products (Tom’s of Maine, and Jason Natural products).

  • After 25 minutes (instead of the prescribed 30 minutes), I pulled off the strip and threw it out; and rinsed off the rest from my teeth.
  • That yucky feeling gradually went away over about 90 minutes.  And then I brushed my teeth.

I’ll try the Whitestrips again to see if I have a similar experience.  And will also investigate the ingredients to see what I might be reacting to.

I was at the library today, and found a book that’s all about smiles, called Smile! The Ultimate Guide to Achieving Smile Beauty.

In fact, the Introduction chapter title is: What’s In A Smile?  Naturally, I had to check it out.

It’s written by a dentist to the celebrities, who created a teeth whitening system call GoSMILE.  I just scanned the chapter on teeth-whitening, and it’s fairly neutral; at least the info was consistent with what I’ve gathered so far on teeth-whitening. So my guess is that it has some helpful info in it; not just a marketing ploy.

I’ll read more and get back to you.  Here’s a fun fact from page 2 of the book:

“FACT: It takes nearly three times the number of muscles to frown as it does to smile.  Frowning requires forty-three, while smiling asks only seventeen to help out.  Stop working so hard!”

I asked my dentist about teeth whitening.  Here’s what I learned:

  • She offers Rembrandt Sapphire whitening.
  • It’s a 90-minute or so process; 1 hour of actual whitening action.
  • She says it’s the best process; low level of discomfort during and after.  They cover the gums to protect from the gel.
  • You get some gel or something afterward to touch up; and “if you follow my directions” the teeth should remain nice and white.  She was a bit mysterious about what that gel is, but it’s from Rembrandt, so I’m assuming you can by over the counter.
  • Cost: $500  (reference point: the machine cost her $5000, so after 10 patients, it’s all profit!)
  • For over-the-counter self-whitening, she said Crest Whitestrips work the best.

Online I found:

Conclusion for myself:

  • My teeth were about a 4 or 5 on the 10-tooth color scale; so not super white nor super stained.
  • I can live with this; not ready to put down $500 for the service.
  • However, I’m curious about the Crest Whitestrips, so will try out.  A couple of my teeth in particular are darker than the others.  Will report back on this, of course.
  • Also, I’m using my Sonicare and that claims to help with stains, too.  At least it will help offset my tea-drinking habit, I hope.

Any of you out there had experience with teeth whitening? Or planning on doing post-braces?

One of the things I look forward to when I get my braces off is to see how the Sonicare brush I have feels on my naked teeth. And if in fact brushing with it helps with stain removal/teeth whitening, as they claim.

I googled “sonicare effectiveness” and found an abstract for a 1997 Harvard study that says:

“These results clearly demonstrate that the Sonicare sonic toothbrush is superior to a manual toothbrush in improving periodontal health in adolescent orthodontic patients with existing gingivitis.”

And Phillips (the manufacturer) has a page with clinical study info, including this on how Sonicare does on stains.

I guess I’ll find out soon.

As I consider whether I’ll want to go the extra step and get my teeth whitened after I get my braces off (next week!), I’ve been doing a bit of research.

Here’s a fun article that talks about the blinding whiteness of some people’s veneered and bleached teeth, particularly in the entertainment industry (like Michael Douglas and Hilary Duff–I don’t really know who she is.)

It talks about stars who get porcelain veneers that look unnatural, about over-the-counter treatments like Crest Whitestrips, and the impact of shows like Extreme Makeover, which I’ve never seen. Though now I’m curious.

Anyway, if you’d like to read the article, go here.