Emergency whitening
May 14, 2009 10:42 AM   Subscribe

Is there any way I can get my teeth significantly whiter within 10 days?

An event at which I'm going to have a lot of photos taken looms. I had intended to go see a dentist about whitening, but I've been very busy in the last few months and never got around to it. Now, suddenly, I have only 10 days left.

I tried whitening strips last year on a whim, but they don't fit my mouth at all. I've seen whitening kiosks in certain malls; do they work? Any other ideas I'm overlooking? I haven't actually called any dentists, since I don't have a dentist right now, and everything I've heard about dentistry in this country seems to imply that one always has to wait weeks for an appointment.
posted by Maximian to Health & Fitness (12 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
If you're willing to pay cash for an elective procedure, I'm sure you can find a dentist to see you right now.
posted by availablelight at 10:49 AM on May 14, 2009

See if there are any competitors to Brite Smile (which does not have a location in Columbus, OH).
posted by ericb at 10:50 AM on May 14, 2009

Have your teeth whitened at a dentist's office. Lots of people cancel their appointments, so you might be able to schedule an appointment in the next few days.

The whitening kiosks at malls didn't work for me (I had a free whitening done when they advertised at a company I worked for)--my teeth are already pretty white and I saw no difference whatsoever. I had a professional whitening done a few years ago by a dentist, and the results were marvelous after just two appointments (one to make a mold of my teeth and, on the following day, the actual whitening that lasted approximately one hour)!
posted by halogen at 10:54 AM on May 14, 2009

Make a paste of baking soda and hydrogen peroxide and brush with it. Costs virtually nothing. Makes the gums tingle a bit but that passes. It won't give you Hollywood teeth, but it will make them look a lot better.
posted by CunningLinguist at 11:15 AM on May 14, 2009 [5 favorites]

Well, along with white strips drugstores also usually carry 'paint on' type whiteners. They're a pain to apply 'cause you have to dry your teeth, paint 'em, let that dry--and you'll still end up swallowing a little bit of the stuff. But it does work.
posted by stray at 11:43 AM on May 14, 2009

My dentist's office sold me some of the gel they use in whitening treatments. They do the kind where they make custom molded trays to fit your teeth, and then put the gel in the molds. I have a not-custom tray that came with a drugstore whitening kit. I bought gel-but-not-trays from my dentist for $15 (4 weeks' worth) and used it at home with the drugstore trays for overnight treatments. I had great, fast results. I also followed directions from my dentist's office about how long to use the gel and how long to go without coffee/red wine/etc. after treatment -- your teeth can be extra likely to stain for a couple of weeks after whitening.

With any whitening product that makes a visible difference in a short time, be careful not to be overzealous. You could cause a lot of pain and sensitivity in your teeth, and/or get whiter spots and streaks on your teeth if you do too much, too fast.
posted by TrixieRamble at 12:05 PM on May 14, 2009 [1 favorite]

I've got the dentist-made trays with the bleach that comes in syringes, and it works great - I don't know if you can find a dentist in your area who can do that on such short notice, though. My suggestion would be that whatever method you end up using, also grab a tube of Sensodyne toothpaste at the drugstore - it'll help with any pain or cold/heat sensitivity that you get from a rapid bleaching process.
posted by you're a kitty! at 12:09 PM on May 14, 2009 [1 favorite]

It took my dentist about a week to make a custom tray for me to use with the syringes full of bleach. Worked very well for me after just two nights of wearing the tray, and now my dentist will give me free syringes of bleach when my love of coffee inevitably darkens my smile. Fluoride treatment and Sensodyne definitely help with any sensitivity.

If you're willing to spend (a lot) more money a lot of dentists will do laser whitening, which works very well, very quickly, and no tray is required.
posted by Thoughtcrime at 12:43 PM on May 14, 2009 [1 favorite]

Most dental offices that do bleaching (and this is most offices these days) can cater to patients who need a quick whitening. it's prom time, and wedding season, and we know it. a dentist is going to want to be sure that you have no condition that might preclude bleaching, or make your gums or teeth extra sensitive, but you should be on your way the very first visit.
I always tell my patients what to expect, and, all consideration of the dangers of long term UV exposure aside, darker skin and lips either by tanning or cosmetics creates a more noticeable contrast with light teeth and makes them appear even whiter.
the one visit $600 bleaching is kind of a scam, because the biggest effect of that treatment comes from dehydration of the teeth, which makes them chalky white for a day or so. if it's the day before your wedding the money will be worth it, but if you are looking for whitening that will look nice and stay pretty consistent for months pro strength strips or trays are nearly the same, it's a matter of patient convenience.
Not all teeth can be bleached either. time is short, but it's not unheard of to do veneers in such short time, but it's spendy.
posted by OHenryPacey at 1:18 PM on May 14, 2009

I just started using this Listerine pre-brush stuff and it seems to be working very quickly. Easier than the strips; cheaper than the dentist. It came on a bottle of mouthwash that was so huge I expect it to last for the next 10 years or so.
posted by theredpen at 6:17 PM on May 14, 2009

Response by poster: Followup for the archives:

I followed CunningLinguist's advice first, as it promised to be nearly cost- and trouble-free (and I also noticed that the whitening strips and trays at the drugstore listed hydrogen peroxide as the active ingredient). Good results, and worth the amazing, writhe-worthy itching stinging sensations in my mouth. I do believe it takes me from the "too bad he has such ugly teeth" category to the "I didn't notice anything about his teeth" category. Excellent return on investment of $0.99 for bottle of peroxide. Of course, with a professional whitening I probably could have gotten to the coveted "wow, what a fantastic toothy smile" category, but there just wasn't time (or money, for that matter).

Thanks to everyone for the great responses.
posted by Maximian at 12:05 AM on May 21, 2009

For the archives, it may be worth noting that Arm & Hammer makes a toothpaste with exactly these ingredients (Baking Soda and Peroxide).

- AJ
posted by Alaska Jack at 11:07 PM on May 29, 2009

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