It was about a year ago that I swore off red wine. As much as I loved a good Pinot Noir, my teeth were paying the ugly price. Years of daily coffee and cola intake along with the occasional wine was beginning to yellow my teeth. And being the cosmetically proactive type, I switched from red to white and cut back from two to one coffee a day. I tried the over-the-counter whitening strips and mouthwash, but neither seemed to make a noticeable difference. With the new year approaching, I made it my resolution to have my teeth professionally whitened.
Now, I’m no stranger in the dentist’s chair. I’ve had a lot, and I mean a ton, of dental work done in my life. There have been root canals (yes, plural), crowns (two), extractions and more fillings than you can shake a sugar stick at. I wasn’t sure if I was even a candidate for teeth whitening when I booked an appointment at NDK Dental in East Greenwich. I met with the practice’s owner, Dr. Nicole DeVecco Kim, and her dental assistant Vanessa to discuss options.
I hadn’t been to the dentist in a year, so I felt a bit vain about coming in for a cosmetic reason, but Vanessa quickly put me at ease. “Everyone is obsessed with white teeth,” she said. “We see people with very white teeth who want them even whiter,” she smirked.
To see if I was eligible for the treatment, Dr. DeVecco Kim gave me a dental exam to rule out cavities and other potential issues. Open for a year, Dr. DeVecco Kim explained that her practice uses state-of-the art dental technology to best treat patients. In her gentle and careful way, she showed me how she uses an intraoral video camera to get a uniquely precise look inside someone’s mouth. “My patients really appreciate this type of imaging,” she said, explaining that it gives people an excellent view of their own mouths. Since I’ve had so much work done, I must admit I was a little terrified of seeing my teeth up close and personal on the TV screen. I braced myself for a viewing of American Horror Story: Terrible Teeth but was pleasantly surprised to see footage of Flossing Works! instead, and that my teeth and gums looked as healthy as they did.
After the exam, Vanessa gave me a thorough cleaning (highly suggested before whitening) and fitted me for the whitening trays. The trays, made of a flexible plastic, are typically ready in a week or two. I was relieved when I tried them on and found them to be so comfortable. After a little tutorial on how to apply the “bleach” to the trays and place them on my upper and lower teeth, I was off with my custom trays and a two-week supply of prescription- strength Opalescence.
The recommended length of treatment time is two weeks, with use overnight (or at least four hours daily). Each night, about an hour before bed, I carefully applied the gel to the trays and placed them on. When I woke up in the morning, I would remove them, brush off any residue and store them in their case.
I started to see results within the first week, and by the time I finished I was at least two if not three shades lighter. A month – and a few glasses of red wine – later, and I was still smiling with the results. And now I get to brag about keeping a resolution (for once) and ringing in a brighter new year.