Glad I Did It! But Watch out for the Zingers! - South Pasadena, CA

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I am lucky enough to have relatively straight...

I am lucky enough to have relatively straight teeth (well, at least my uppers), even if my overall tooth health is so-so (lots of fillings!)

I have wanted to whiten my teeth for a long time. I have naturally yellowy tinted teeth with some staining near the gum line. I don't smoke, don't drink coffee or tea regularly and always use Sensodyne whitening toothpaste everyday, however the yellow is just how they naturally wanted to be. My dentist told me that teeth will naturally have a tendency to be either yellowy hued or grey hued and most people don't have naturally white teeth. Even though I realized ice white teeth were not naturally occurring for most, I still wanted them! Don't we all?

I was apprehensive about the ZOOM Whitening process. Part of it was the price, around $500 or more depending where you live. However I was more concerned about my sensitivity. Like I said, I worship Sensodyne, it's the only thing that curbs my sensitivity to hot, cold and some textures that come in contact with my teeth. I also GRIND my teeth in my sleep, so a lot of chewing surface on my teeth has enamel wear and some chipping. >_<

I saw a deal on Groupon for a ZOOM Whitening deal which included a full oral exam and Xrays for $119. I could not let that deal get away! I booked it and had to reschedule (well in advance) around a trip that came up during the week of my appointment. Because of all the Groupons they sold, I had to wait almost 8 months! I almost forgot I even had that Groupon!

Finally the day came. I had been regularly flossing, brushing with Sensodyne and my electric toothbrush and using ACT Restoration Mouthwash (which is the best for keeping the PH balance in your mouth neutral, which is more important for your oral health than being alcohol free by the way).

The morning of I started getting worried about the 'zingers' that I had read about. Zingers are basically sharp shooting pains in your tooth nerves that can be unbearable after whitening. It was a battle between my desire for pearly whites and a possibility of a lot of pain. I thought I would be even more at risk because of my sensitive teeth, but the dentist said every one is different and no one responds the same no matter what their previous sensitivity level was.

The staff were really nice and accommodating. The assistant that did the procedure was really sweet. (I forgot her name, I know, terrible, I was just so nervous!). First, she put a mouth-guard-like thing in my mouth that basically keeps my lips off my teeth and exposes them openly. It wasn't that uncomfortable and I could swallow easily, so it didn't weird me out so much. Then, she squirted a substance on my gums and spread it around. This stuff hardens and sticks to the mouthguard and becomes one unit after UV curing. It basically protects your gums from the peroxide. Next she painted the peroxide gel on my teeth and placed the UV light right up to my mouth, exposing my peroxide coated teeth to the light.

The machine does a 15 minute round and then the nurse will come in and reapply the peroxide and go for another round. The total procedure is 3 rounds, which is a total of 45 minutes under the light. Many patients don't make it all three rounds.

At first I felt nothing. Some warmth, some weird sounds (I think the peroxide was fizzing, but hard to tell). Then I started to feel a low pulse in my teeth. whoom...whoom...whoom.. I expected to feel something like that, so it wasn't bad, but I was disturbed because I was waiting in suspense for the shooting pains that people have described. I felt my first zingers at around the 10 minute mark on my first session. It's like a sharp, acute pain in one tooth. sometime short and spiked, sometimes long and throbbing. They weren't horrible, but startling, because they aren't in the same teeth always, and there was no telling when they were coming because they were rather irregular.

Phew! I made it through the first session. I seriously doubted I would make a full two, let alone three. The nurse came and reapplied the peroxide for round two. She told me if I felt pain, I could remove the light from my mouth if no one was around to do it. I felt better knowing I had some control and wasn't 'bolted in' so to speak.

Round two was more intense. More zingers, and more often, but surprisingly not any more painful than before. So it was bearable. I just kept thinking, pearly whites! I also was worried the longer I stayed under, the longer/worse my recovery might be, but I decided whether the next 24 hours were somewhat terrible or really terrible made little difference. I knew it would suck, so I may as well make it a home run. I lasted all three sessions!

Driving to work after I felt more zingers. Startling zingers. Zingers that made me yelp out loud in my car. Ow! oooow! wtf! Ow!

You know I have many piercings and have had many hours in a tattoo chair. There is no pain like tooth nerve pain. Apparently, the pain is from two factors, number one the peroxide strips your protein layer from your teeth and that takes quite a few hours to naturally rebuild (it numbs your teeth's interaction with air, water, environment, etc). Number two is that the UV process swells the pulpice in your teeth. The insides swell and have nowhere to go so they are putting pressure on the nerves in your teeth. That hurts. a lot. The next 4 hours at work were exhausting. Constant pain and throbbing with occasional jolts of lightning pain. I was so tired, I wasn't thinking straight. I would sip warm water to soothe my teeth when they throbbed and didn't open my mouth all day (my teeth did not like air blowing on them!). I took ibuprofen every 4 hours.

When I got home, I took some Robax (its an over the counter medication in Canada, prescription in US). I had some left from my last trip to see my family in Toronto. Robax is a pain reliever (i think it has acetaminophen) coupled with a mild muscle relaxant. I took two extra strength, at dinner and passed out. I slept surprisingly well.

The next morning, I had literally no pain or sensitivity. I still don't. The first day sucked so bad, I thought the next day I would still be sensitive. However I am totally, 100% better. I would recommend this to anyone in a heartbeat, it is so worth it to me!

I added some photos of my teeth before and some of my new smile! Enjoy, and I hope I offered some useful information to people considering this process. If you see a Groupon, grab it!

2 month update

Just checking in and decided to give you all an update. My teeth are still white, surprise, surprise. Although, obviously not as blindingly white as the first day. I actually prefer that since they look more natural. Here's a few photos in different light
Alhambra Dentist

Johnston and his staff were more than professional! They didn't make me feel like a 'Grouponer' or treat me any different than I'm sure their top clients. I would recommend him to anybody. His oral exam was also very thorough.

5 out of 5 stars Overall rating
5 out of 5 stars Doctor's bedside manner
5 out of 5 stars Answered my questions
4 out of 5 stars After care follow-up
5 out of 5 stars Time spent with me
4 out of 5 stars Phone or email responsiveness
5 out of 5 stars Staff professionalism & courtesy
5 out of 5 stars Payment process
5 out of 5 stars Wait times
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