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From Discolored to Dazzling, Barbara

The worst thing about having just one dark tooth is that everybody notices it. I was often asked, "What happened to that tooth? Why is it so dark?" After the tooth was bleached to match my other teeth, those embarrassing questions stopped. Naturally, it was a big relief.

It all started with an accident during my teenage years. I fell hard on a cement surface and ended up with an injury to my upper right central incisor (tooth #8). Although this tooth was slowly dying from the injury, the trauma did not really show up for another decade when the tooth began to darken. By the time I was in my 20s, the tooth was darker by a good three shades than all my other teeth.

Fortunately, the traumatized tooth did not cause any problem and did not require any special dental procedures. After a while, I just accepted the fact that I had one discolored tooth in my mouth. I even got to the point where I stopped seeing it when I combed my hair or glanced in the mirror.

However, it took one brief incident for me to change my attitude and make me want to change my smile. I had a photograph taken with my family and the picture was hung on the wall. One afternoon, I was walking through the room and glanced at the photograph. What jumped out at me was my one brown tooth in the group of smiling faces with perfect white teeth. That is when I knew I had to do something.

Dentists used to believe that whitening a traumatized tooth meant first doing a root canal to remove the nerve and then bleaching internally, from the inside out. But since my tooth was not causing any problems, I did not require a root canal. Instead, my dentist decided to try an external bleaching process to improve the look of the tooth.

In a painless process that took about an hour, an impression of my upper teeth was created to make a bleaching tray, which fits glove-like over the teeth. A 20 percent bleaching solution was then applied to the tray just before bedtime. For five consecutive nights, I wore the device while sleeping. Because the tray is custom-made, it did not cause any discomfort, allowing me to sleep comfortably through the night. After the first couple of nights, I noticed a real improvement in the look of the tooth. By the time the process was complete, the traumatized incisor was transformed; it was bleached to a shade slightly lighter and brighter than the adjacent teeth.

The next step was to bleach all the upper teeth, using a 10 percent solution, to the shade that matched the newly lightened incisor. This took another five days. Finally, I bleached the lower teeth in the same manner.

By bleaching in a three-stage program, I was able to monitor my progress and judge the color day by day. In addition, the bleaching process was painless on all my teeth--even the damaged incisor. After completing the entire treatment, I was thrilled! The results were great.

Bleaching my damaged incisor, as well as my other teeth, gave me a real uplift. I now smile bigger (and more often) because of the improvement in my appearance. Thankfully, I was blessed with good, straight teeth, which I have carefully maintained with semi-annual dental visits. That is why bleaching has meant so much to me: it is like the icing on the cake.

Plus, in all our family photographs, I am now the one wearing the biggest, happiest smile! 

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