Trading in Crest White Strips, Managing Editor Heather Carney signs up for real-deal teeth whitening to see what the fuss is all about.
My first piece of advice when you sign up for professional teeth whitening: Don’t turn your iPhone to selfie mode to catch a glimpse of your mouth during the treatment. It’s terrifying. But once you get past the idea that the dental hygienist is viewing you in this vulnerable and horror-movie-like state, the process is pretty painless and 100 percent worth the effort.
I went to the best for this treatment: Dr. Patty’s Dental Boutique. It’s received tons of press for its spa-like, concierge dental services that take the anxiety out of sitting in everyone’s least favorite spot—the dental chair. And it must work, because Dr. Patty is expanding her practice throughout South Florida.
The teeth-whitening treatment requires two, approximately two-hour sessions plus some homework, which consists of wearing retainers with teeth-whitening gel at night. The process begins by first assessing the yellowness of your teeth on a scale of one to 10. A bit disheartening, yes, but that’s why you’re there, right? Then the hygienist takes a mold of your teeth, and then the real fun begins. The hygienist inserts a red spacer into your mouth that prevents your lips, or tongue, from touching your teeth (hence, the horror-movie look). Once your mouth has settled into the position, on goes the whitening gel.
The first appointment consists of two rounds of whitening that each last 20 minutes. The second appointment consists of three rounds of whitening, again for 20 minutes each. So all in all, you endure the scary mouth spacer for an hour and 40 minutes, which isn’t so bad when you can watch Netflix while reclining in a dental chair curled up under a blanket. Dr. Patty makes a seemingly uncomfortable situation surprisingly cozy. The only other downside is swearing off coffee, red wine and blueberries (who knew?) in between appointments.
I walked away with the whitest of white teeth, proudly registering a one on the color scale. Upon hearing the news, I couldn’t help but smile.
Professional teeth-whitening treatments range from $350 for a take-home kit to $2,300 for severe staining. Most treatments cost approximately $1,200.