The Impact of Childhood Illness, Donna
Although I'm now a strong and healthy adult, I was a classically sick kid. I suffered through bouts of illnesses, including tonsillitis and strep throat. As a result of these serious infections, I had lots of fevers, and for much of my early childhood I was in a cycle of getting sick, recovering, and getting sick all over again. I must have been a handful.
As a result of the high fevers I experienced, the enamel on my developing teeth formed incorrectly. When the teeth finally grew in, they showed thin white "stripes" on the surface of the enamel. As I matured, there was a noticeable contrast between these ribbons of white and the slightly darker shade of the rest of my teeth. Other than this cosmetic problem, my teeth were basically fine, fairly straight and healthy.
I didn't pay too much attention to the problem as a youngster, but my attitude changed when I decided to enter the dental hygiene profession. As soon as I started dental hygiene school, I became more conscious of how my own teeth looked. Frankly, the striped effect of my teeth started to bother me. I knew I wanted to do something to improve the overall look of my smile--and, if possible, eliminate the striping completely. It was one memento from childhood I no longer wanted!
I went to work in a dental office, and after the second year as a hygienist, the time was right to try a bleaching procedure. My dentist (Dr. Tom Brown of Edmund, OK) created a custom-fitted bleaching tray in the office and I took it home to wear at night with a special bleaching solution. My goal was to lighten my teeth to match the shade of the white striping throughout the enamel. Amazingly, it only took three nights--about eight hours each time--for the process to work. The results were just perfect.
Luckily, I had no discomfort or sensitivity throughout the procedure. In addition, the results have lasted. After four-and-a-half years, I recently decided to do a touch-up just to make certain my teeth continued to look their best. I used the tray just for one night, and in the morning, my teeth were sparkling again.
I was truly happy with the results, but I didn't expect other people to react so positively as well. I discovered that everyone notices my smile--friends and strangers alike. People always comment about how wonderful my teeth look. Recently I went to a party and someone said, "You've got to close your mouth. Your teeth are too white!" I guess I was blinding him, but I took it as a compliment.
I've also noticed that once I had the bleaching completed, I decided to do additional procedures to improve the look of my mouth. For example, I had all my silver fillings replaced with composite fillings to match the shade of my lightened teeth. That turned out to be a great decision, because now when I smile big--and I usually do--everything blends beautifully.
All in all, having my teeth lightened was one of the best things I've ever done for myself.