Can you really brighten your smile in just 30 minutes? Nyree Barrett puts the procedure to the test
I love hot pink lipstick; I’ve just never been able to wear it because of paranoia that my teeth are too yellow. The launch of a new hot-pink Chanel shade is the final straw – it’s time to get my teeth whitened.
The hour-long process begins with a consultation with Dr Dina Samaan to discuss the shade of my teeth. She explains that many people expect the treatment to give them completely white teeth; instead, smiles usually lighten by four to five shades. I’m disheartened to see that my teeth really are quite yellow, but interested to hear that the colour of our teeth is like the colour of our skin: some of it is down to maintenance, but it’s primarily dictated by genetics.
Then it’s time for the cleaning. First, scaling: a rather uncomfortable process to get rid of ‘calculus’, a hard plaque build-up. It’s followed by airflow cleaning, which involves a blast of water and salt. None of this is pleasant, but it’s not unbearable, and afterwards my teeth literally squeak.
The cleaning is to ensure your teeth and the bleaching agent have an uninterrupted showdown. To start the duel, Dr Dina inserts an attractive mouth-opening contraption and applies some protective gel around my gums, which hardens into a plaster. Then on goes the whitening agent (a concoction containing hydrogen peroxide, which can apparently actually improve the health of gums). The lights are dimmed, and on goes the sapphire light – a glowing blue gem that hovers by my face.
I won’t lie: the 30 minutes go very slowly, my lips aching from being pried open. I’m told to raise my hand if I feel an extreme and escalating discomfort, but Dr Dina says a wee electric feeling every few minutes is normal. I have moments of discomfort in two particular spots on my gums, but decide, somewhat optimistically, that the pain isn’t escalating.
Finally the 30 minutes are over, et voila: my new teeth. The first thing I see are white patches on my gums (on the same spots I’d felt pain), but I’m assured they’ll disappear within a few hours, which they do. Straight afterwards my teeth are also very painful and sensitive, but this is remedied with gel from the dentist.
After recovering from the pain and the weirdness of having white gums, I finally look at the results: sure, my teeth aren’t Hollywood-ready, but they are certainly four or so shades lighter, and they look natural. I’m told that the results will be more dramatic the next morning in natural light: sure enough, when I wake the next day my teeth are brighter still, as are a few noticeable white patches and stains on my teeth. Worrying, yes, but I soon find out that this is due to dehydration of the teeth, and will disappear in a few weeks (let’s hope!). Also, due to stain prevention, I’m forced to eat a diet of white foods for 48 hours. It’s a small price to pay, but there are very few ways to imbibe caffeine in white form.
So am I pleased with the results? Definitely: I can’t stop looking at my teeth. They’re not quite as white as Jessica Alba’s, but at least they no longer look like Pete Doherty’s.
Teeth whitening at Talass Orthodontic and Dental Centre on Jumeirah Beach Road costs Dhs1,600. Call 04 349 2220 for information.
Hannah Lewis bares her teeth to find out what she’d look like with the perfect smile
Smile analysis is all about discovering how pretty your smile could be, without making any permanent changes. My appointment starts with dentist Stefan Pilhlveus asking which aspects of my smile I’d like to alter. Having checked that my mouth is – thankfully – not in need of medical attention, he begins moulding composite material (resin) to my teeth. This is applied to my front 10 teeth on the top row, lengthening the front six and building upon my molars so that they are more visible.
After some strange sounds, bright lights and unusual but painless sensations, I’m handed a mirror. Gone is my old friend, the gap; gone are my wonky incisors. In their place is a new, symmetrical smile that reassuringly still looks like me (albeit an improved version). Alas, 10 minutes later the resin is removed (again, an odd but painless experience), and I’m back to my old not-quite-perfect self.
So how can I achieve a permanent perfect smile? Dr Pilhlveus suggests I have 10 veneers fitted and my teeth lightened by about three shades: slightly whiter than the resin he used. He also recommends a procedure involving lasers that would remove some of the ‘excess gum’ on show when I smile, as well as exposing more of my teeth. And the overall cost? About Dhs45,000. Eek.
For those considering aesthetic dentistry, smile analysis offers a chance to test-drive different options, and will reassure you that you’re unlikely to be signed up for procedures you don’t want or need. On the fence? Give it a go, then give it a week. Having never thought twice about my smile before, I leave the building desperate to find the money for the procedures. It only takes the taxi ride home to remind myself that my imperfect and apparently tiny teeth have never bothered me before, and that I’ve never noticed, let alone lamented, the extreme visibility of my gums.
Smile Analysis at Vilafortuny Laser Centre for Dentistry takes about 45 minutes; sessions start at Dhs500. Call 04 394 3618 for info.
‘Eat fruit and vegetables such as apples and celery (known as natural stain removers), and sip water after eating foods that are known to stain teeth. These include tea, blueberries, soy sauce, balsamic vinegar and tomato sauce.’
Dr Stefan Pilhlveus, Vilafortuny Laser Centre for Dentistry (04 394 3618)
‘Try to avoid cola completely, but if you’re going to drink it, use a straw so your teeth don’t get stained. It’s also best to use a straw with acidic drinks such as orange juice, so the acidity doesn’t hit the teeth.’
Dr Dina Samaan, Talass Orthodontic and Dental Centre (04 349 2220)
‘Ladies can try using a darker shade of lipstick: the contrast will make your teeth look lighter. Another tip is to add a layer of Vaseline to your teeth after brushing, which gives them extra shine. Make sure you only do this after a good clean, because if there’s plaque on the teeth, the Vaseline will lock it in.’
Dr Linda Zakout and Dr Phoebe Saad, Tower Dental Clinic (04 362 2939)
‘If you have the occasional cigarette, you can now buy toothpastes that contain silicates: these are the ingredients in professional pastes that remove stains. Also, trade your mouthwash for one that contains fluoride. This will help to cut down on discoloration and will also give you some whitening effects.’
Dr Michael Apa, Dr Michael’s Dental Clinic (04 394 9433)