“Why don’t you ever smile?” I was asked the same question every time I stood in front of an iPhone, preparing to be papped at some media event, under the unforgiving lighting. My response was always the same: absolute silence, pursed lips, chin tilted stare (carefully judging the lighting) and a pout that would make Victoria Beckham look positively amiable.
The truth was that I was too embarrassed to open my mouth and expose my teeth. Over a decade of smoking had taken its toll on my teeth. In my head, my teeth had been reduced to rancid yellow tombstones, which would made even a 60 Rothmans-a-day Pat Butcher look like the epitome of dental hygiene.
Action had to be taken, so I headed to my dentist. Miraculously, I needed no work done and decided to use the money I’d saved for fillings on teeth whitening. There were, my dentist explained, three options: laser whitening in the surgery, a home kit or the combination or both. I went for the home-kit, Zoom Whitening by Philips, which is pretty much the only clinically proven treatment and the one favoured by dentists.
Always on the lookout for a bargain, I questioned the price (which had been reduced to £200). I’d passed countless beauticians’ windows offering whitening for as little as £70. My dentist warned me that these establishments were using chemicals that simply did not work. They’re sharks who are only after your teeth and you should only trust a dental professional with teeth whitening.
The home kit was easy to use. The dentist made a mold of my gums to create a custom tray that would fit snugly over my teeth. I picked it up a week later, along with gel – the bleaching agent – which is inserted into the tray. For the next two weeks I put this on every night.
Each morning I’d obsessively examine the colour of my teeth, monitoring the results in my diary like the control freak I am, while taking narcissism to an altogether different level by taking close-up selfies, under every conceivable shade of lighting, while grinning like Jack Nicholson in Batman. Yes, I know, I know…
All dentists will warn you to be realistic about teeth whitening: individual results will vary and are based on your initial tooth colour and the nature of your tooth staining. After 10 days of applications there was a marked improvement. After 14 days I stopped the process, with enough gel left over for a repeat performance. The joy with home whitening is that once you have the mold you simply purchase more gel and top up at your leisure.
The results revolutionised my social life: I now flashed by gnashers compulsively in photos, to the extent that people thought I’d undergone some sort of personality transplant. Sadly, however, there was one thing teeth whitening hadn’t remedied: my will power. When I started the process I’d vowed to give up smoking. Six months later, I’m back on the fags. Well, you can’t win them all… So it looks like I’ll be popping along to my dentist for yet another top up very soon.
Dentiq Implant Centre in Eastbourne offers a range of bespoke dental solutions for all budgets. dentiq.co.uk
Philips also offers various proven teeth whitening options. Go to zoomwhitening.com for more information.