90 Minutes of Discomfort for 6 Shades Whiter

So for Christmas last year, Lucie and I decided to splurge and buy Zoom!® tooth whitening for each other. We've tried a few times to make an appointment, but things have come up, and we hadn't been able to use our gift certificates until today.

I've got the day off, so I have my appointment in the morning. I drive Lucie in to work, and head off to our dentist for my session. I am greeted by our friendly and perky dental assistant, whom I shall call Torquemada (or, as I can easily imagine her saying, "call me Torkie!") who has me lie on the dental chair while she busies herself setting up the soundproof walls. The dental chair feels eerily like a rack as I lie down, and Torkie adjusts it so I'm lying flat on my back and helpless.

She puts a goofy-looking pair of yellow glasses on my face that are almost certainly only there to make me look and feel foolish, brings out a mouthpiece that forces my lips back and shows so much of my teeth I start to feel like the Joker, and brings out her tools. First, Torkie takes several swatches of cotton and shoves them into my mouth to help isolate the teeth. Next, she takes out her hot glue gun and glues everything together ("to make sure the cotton sticks together," she says, though I have long since stopped believing a word she says.) I start to feel more like a craft project than a dental patient, and I imagine her whipping out a Bedazzler to give my teeth the bling they so desperately need.

Thankfully, no Bedazzler appears; it looks like we're finally about to start. Once my teeth are bared, my mouth is clamped open, and the cotton has turned my mouth into Death Valley with an epiglottis, Torkie slaps on the bleach and brings over the REAL torture device, the Zoom!® Whitening Lamp. A cross between one of the scutters from Red Dwarf and a tentacle straight off Doctor Octopus' torso, I can see the thing leering at me with an evil sneer, eagerly anticipating its next victim. Torkie grants its wish, jamming its UV spewing end into my mouth and setting the timer for 15 minutes before walking away and leaving the two of us alone. The heat makes my teeth sting slightly, and it gets a little warm, but I toughen it up and manage to make it through my session... or so I think.

After fifteen minutes, Torkie bounces back into the torture chamber and moves the lamp away. Maybe it's only my imagination, but I swear I can see it pacing behind her as she cleans the whitening agent from my teeth. It's tasted me, and it wants another shot to take me out. Unknowing and unaware of the evil robomauling to come, Torkie dumps another load of bleach into my mouth and lets the lamp have its way with me once again. This time, the heat becomes harder to bear, my tongue starts to scramble around my mouth trying to find some shade like it's a vampire getting a tan, and the lamp is jammed so far into my mouth that... well, let's just say that if you've ever been French-kissed by a Decepticon, you know exactly how I feel. It gets decidedly uncomfortable, but finally Torkie comes back in and separates the two of us.

Unfortunately, she only keeps us apart long enough to replace the whitening agent from my teeth before it begins all over again. I don't know if I'm going to make it through this time or not -- my nerve endings are complaining nonstop, I'm bent so far back on my chair that I can feel one of my vertebrae threatening to come out my nostril, I'm pretty sure I can smell my moustache hairs starting to smolder from the heat, Barry Manilow is playing on the sound system, and the light is so bright that I feel the need to clench my butt lest some light leak out of the bottom of my shorts.

An eternity later, Torkie comes back into the room and thankfully, blessedly, moves the Zoom!® Assault Lamp 2000 into its corner where it rests, laughing at my pain and no doubt blogging somewhere about its latest orofacial conquest. The mouthpiece, cotton, glue, and several dozen nerve endings are pulled from my mouth; Torkie gives me a forgiveness package of whitening toothpaste and sensitivity gel; and in my weakened state I allow myself to be scheduled for a follow-up appointment next week where I will be instructed to repeat the bleaching process at home. As I walk out of the dentist's office with my teeth so sensitive that I seriously think about walking backward to reduce the amount of wind hitting my mouth, and with the pain and humiliation of the last hour and a half tempered by the fact that my teeth are now much whiter than they were when I woke up this morning, I find myself thinking two things...

First, maybe I shouldn't mention all of this when I pick up Lucie for her whitening treatment, and

Second, maybe I should brush my damn teeth more often.


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