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Has your dentist suggested whitening your teeth?

Posted by Kathy G on 11/09/04 at 19:38 (163391)

I had to change dentists. Well, not really. The dentist I've gone to since I was sixteen changed to a new office and I moved with him. He's joined a practice with five other dentists. Last week I went for my six-month cleaning and I didn't like the hygenist at all but I'm sure I can try one of their others. One of the first things she asked was if I had considered whitening my teeth because they'd 'whiten up so well.'

My answer was a resounding 'No!' since unless they become very discolored and I don't think they will, I can think of lots of better ways to spend $500. When she cleaned my teeth, she found a 'leaking filling' and some slight decay in an old fillings. My dentist is only working part-time so I had to schedule an appointment for January. Wouldn't you know that one of the teeth started to hurt? I called and I couldn't see my dentist but they gave me an appointment this morning with one of the other doctors.

This woman was brutal! She's very young, having just joined the practice in June, and I was not at all impressed. She filled two bottom molars, one on each side, and she had a devil of a time numbing the area on one side. I tend to brux on that side and the nerves are always very sensitive. She'd give me a shot of carbocane, I think it was, and then she wouldn't wait before she started to drill. She was so surprised that I could feel it. What an idiot! So I suggested that maybe lidocane might be a better idea and she agreed. She then he gave me a lidocaine shot and didn't wait for it to become numb. She kept on giving me shot after shot but wouldn't wait for them to take effect, even when I suggested it. I was more numb when I left then when she worked on me. And my mouth is just plain sore because she was so rough. Not what I'm used to at all.

My dentist is older and he will probably retire in the next five years or so. This practice is all young women dentists but so far, I'm not impressed. He left his former practice because the young dentist he had sold it to, fired him because he was going to go into primarily cosmetic dentistry with a ceramatist on site. Apparently this is where the money is in dentistry. My dentist wanted to continue practicing family dentistry. This younger dentist was very good, I might add, and he did a crown for me and replaced a couple of fillings. He never had a problem numbing my mouth although he mentioned it took much more agent than it did for most people. I think I talk so much I must over stimulate the nerves! :)

Well, I've certainly gotten off the subject but my question is, do you all have dentists who are pushing whitening? Today, the assistant who escorted me into the room asked me if I'd considered having my teeth whitened. After last week, I was beginning to get a complex! I asked if my teeth were especially discolored and she said that wasn't the case. She said some people have more enamel on their teeth and they are whiten up really well and mine happen to fit the bill. I think they must make a huge profit on the procedure or else my teeth have become very yellow in the last six months.

It raises an interesting point. I believe that when she is my age, Botox, or some alternative, and teeth lightening will be commonplace and a woman who's 55 will look like she's 35. I think the price will come down so that it's much more affordable. And I think more men will will seek cosmetic procedures for their skin. They already do on their teeth.

When I mentioned it to my daughter, she said, 'Yeah, well if people don't start to lose weight, they'll just make wrinkle-free corpses with very white teeth!' But isn't it interesting how many cosmetic procedures are becoming mainstream?

Re: Has your dentist suggested whitening your teeth?

Kathy G on 11/09/04 at 19:41 (163392)

The 'she' is the second-to-last paragraph is my daugher. I did run on more than usual, didn't I?

Re: Has your dentist suggested whitening your teeth?

wendyn on 11/09/04 at 20:32 (163393)

Eeww. Sounds like a nasty experience Kathy!! We have a very good dentist, and he's never pushed whitening (neither have his staff). I actually asked about it, and they just gave me the facts.

Those Crest Whitestrips work like a charm though, and they're cheap!

Re: Has your dentist suggested whitening your teeth?

Linda V on 11/09/04 at 20:36 (163394)

Got a GREAT dentist in Merrimack if you ever think you want to switch. He is mid forties..so should be practicing for a while. Roger and his whole family have gone to him for YEARS...let me know if you are interested. Yes, I agree whitening is a money maker to tide over slow times in dentistry. My office asked once, and that was it.

Re: Has your dentist suggested whitening your teeth?

Dorothy on 11/10/04 at 11:29 (163447)

Kathy G - Your recent dental experience has some nightmarish qualities to it, e.g. not waiting for the area to be numb! As to your whitening question, I haven't encountered that aggressive marketing you describe - yet - but the promotional stuff is certainly everywhere in dental offices. What dentists 'push' a lot, I think, is x-rays and if you indicate you'd like to limit the frequency somewhat, they act like you are suggesting something very risky and being so foolhardy. What I think will happen - or has already happened - is that the standard of 'normal' tooth appearance will change so that people will come to think that those blindingly white teeth are normal (and when everyone looks that way, I guess that 'normal' will have changed). Personally, I think that those so-bright-white teeth are kind of scarey.
What is now called 'yellow' might actually be the lovely ivory color of piano keys, that mellow soft color, or the soft color of an eggshell.
I love your daughter's funny comment. I have increasingly been thinking that aging people with gray hair, non-neon teeth, and wrinkles are going to be thought of as some kind of freaks amongst those who want to pretend that gray hair does not exist, teeth are not naturally the color of Whirlpool white, and skin has wrinkles.
You are in the process of finding a new dentist you like, something that I dread whenever the need arises. I have learned that I have a simple foundation for being happy in a new location: a good dentist/dental office; a good doctor, and a good auto shop. We have a fabulous auto shop!
I enjoyed your post; I have the equivalent of the U.S. Treasury in my mouth - lotsa dental work, largely due to serious neglect in childhood - and dental procedures figure in my thinking with some regularity. Thanks for taking our thoughts to the upper regions of the body, away from feet for a little while! In my case, however, either 'end' could use a good auto shop! Best wishes, Kathy G

Re: Has your dentist suggested whitening your teeth?

Julie on 11/10/04 at 15:07 (163467)

Dorothy, you have made my day. My teeth have always been quite white, but the two front ones began to discolour a couple of years ago, and I've been using smokers' toothpaste on them with no success. Now I can think of them as being the lovely ivory colour of piano keys. Thank you!

I'm quite relaxed about my changing hair, though - I've always wanted to go completely white, and it took me until I was well into my 50s to start heading in that direction. Now in my late 60s I'm about half white and half black, and my husband calls me Silvertop, which I love.

Re: Has your dentist suggested whitening your teeth?

marie on 11/10/04 at 20:18 (163494)

Yes I have. Folks who have had it done do look very nice. I have tried the over the counter strips and I think the results were just fine. My teeth brightened a little but not glowing. I would use it again. Would I have a dentist do it for 500.00? NO.

My younger son will have to have some type of cosmetic dentistry done to his teeth and bleaching his teeth is one option. He had a reaction to penicillian when he was a baby and his permanent teeth grew in all spotty. When he gets his braces off we'll decide what will be best...bleaching or veneers. Either way it's going to cost me a few bucks.

Re: Has your dentist suggested whitening your teeth?

Kathy G on 11/11/04 at 12:44 (163564)

They said that you have to have the whitening 'touched up' every couple of years, Marie. My son had spots on his teeth but they were from him getting fluroide too young. He's thirty and in those days, they gave babies fluroide right away. They don't show anymore and haven't for years. I'm not sure why! I know Amoxicillin can cause them but he never had that until he was about two or so. I'd consider the veneers. More expensive but they'll last a long time.

Julie and Dorothy, I, too, have left my hair natural. I've never colored it and it's always been kind of mousey brown but really shiny and it turned blonde in the sun. I had always hoped I'd have white hair like my mother and mother-in-law had but they had black hair and people with black hair tend to turn a prettier white, it seems to me. Still, mine's a pretty color, if I do say so myself.

It's probably half and half right now and I love it. I keep wishing it would get whiter but it's just stalled. I use a special shampoo for white hair, once a week, to make sure it stays bright.

A funny story...My sister is seven years older than I. After her hair fell out from chemo five years ago, her hair, which she had been coloring since college, grew back in white. She decided to leave it and loves it. It looks good on her, too, and only the back is a little dark.

So here we are, two women with white hair who most certainly don't consider ourselves to be old. The other day, I got behind the one of the slowest drivers I've ever encountered. The driver was going about thirty in the left lane on a road where most people go 50mph. Finally, exasperated, I pulled into the right lane to pass. I glanced in the car, and the driver was a lady with white hair. I thought to myself, 'These old ladies shouldn't be allowed to drive!'

Then I burst out laughing because I, too have white hair and I'm sure people look into my car and see an old white-haired lady! For all I know, she was younger than I am and just a slow driver!

When I told my sister the story, she said that she has also done the same thing, forgetting that she has white hair. What do they say about age being a state of mind? I guess ours are still in the young stage!

As for my teeth, I thought the dental hygenist who did my teeth had dentures and I'm serious. When she said she'd had the process done, I thought she was a pretty poor advertisement. I agree, Dorothy, the people who I've seen who had it done look unnatural. As for the dental experience, you're right, it was awful. I've never gone to a dentist who wasn't concerned about the process being as painless as possible. Now I have to decide if the whole practice is like that or just her. As I say, my dentist is not going to retire right away but he's down to part-time and if I have an emergency, I want to know I won't end up with the same woman again. If I did, I wouldn't let her touch me!

Re: Has your dentist suggested whitening your teeth?

Pat on 11/12/04 at 17:49 (163746)

I actually had my teeth whitened - the process was called Brite Smile. The reason I got them whitened is because I was having an implant put in and they told me that if you have them whitened after it wouldn't whiten the implant. Well, they ended up doing it twice (the first time I wasn't satisfied) and the second time I wasn't satisfied either. It may have lightened my teeth two or three shades. What they don't tell you (and what I found out after) is that they whiten according to why they yellowed in the first place. Mine were from taking tetracycline as a kid and it wouldn't whiten them so that was a HUGE waste of money! The doctors push it because they make a ton of money on the process and on all the followup garbage they want you to buy to 'care for' your teeth.