Nothing like sitting back in a dentist’s chair with a tube in my mouth sucking out all the spit to make me long for an old-fashioned cuspidor; that white porcelain spittoon with swirling water and a small metal stand for your paper cup.

My teeth were particularly dirty and stained today: the combined result of putting off my dental appointment, drinking too much tea and coffee, and neglecting to floss (or brush) before bedtime for months on end. Ironically, I put off my appointment by a few months, so that I could schedule an teeth-whitening just before the wedding – apparently a whitening works best on clean teeth, so it has to be scheduled within two weeks of a cleaning.

I had read that it was recommended to get your teeth whitened before a wedding – and after all, when else in my life will I be inspired to look into teeth whitening, if not for my own wedding?

I did not know, however, know how expensive it was going to be. There are two options: in-office and out-of-office. The first option is a scheduled cleaning with an acid-based etcher and some kind of infrared light scan. This completely whitens your teeth within an hour and costs $500, which is not covered by insurance as it is a cosmetic procedure. (No wonder there’s such a big market for $10 Colgate whitening strips…)

Option B is more cost-effective, and hence more popular. The hygienist makes a mold of your teeth to make customized “teeth trays.” This involves stuffing your mouth full of a strange globular putty until it sets up against your teeth – then the seal is broken and mold is pulled off your teeth. Once the “teeth tray” are made, you fill them with  teeth bleach (which comes in syringe-style containers, 4 for $40), and bleach your teeth for 45 minutes for five consecutive nights. Once the “teeth trays” are made you can use them virtually forever, and buy refill bleach kits once every six months. That whole deal cost $300 and included the first set of teeth bleach, which is supposedly safe enough to swallow. The things we do for beauty.

My hair is getting cut and dyed this week as well; between the teeth whitening and hair  darkening, I hope to look dramatically younger by next week…

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