Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Are my teeth WHITE enough?

I've got teeth on the brain.

Oh, wait, that sounds kind of weird. My teeth are, thankfully, in my gums, right where they're supposed to be, not on my brain. Let's start this over.

I've got teeth on my mind. (Much better.) Chickie and I went to the dentist yesterday, and it was a good visit. I'm lucky to have healthy teeth; so much of that is just based on genetics. I have bad eyes and good teeth. I don't have a mouthful of fillings, but I do have eyes full of contact lenses.

Anyway, with teeth on my mind, I found myself wondering, Are my teeth white enough?

Look at pictures of modern celebrities. Their teeth are usually amazingly white, just short of blindingly white. Clearly when it's someone's business to be beautiful in 2010, part of their job includes getting their teeth whitened.

I tried an over-the-counter tooth whitening gel several years ago, but I didn't stick with it, and I don't know how much difference it made. These days, my teeth are their natural color. They aren't perfectly white, but don't have terrible staining either.

non whitened teeth

They're pretty white, right? Ah, but they could look like this, for a nominal fee:

digital tooth whitening

I have to admit, it bugs me that we're getting to the point that the natural color of teeth just isn't white enough in our culture. Hardly anyone has teeth that are naturally as white as bleached teeth are.

But then I think about my straight teeth. I'd be very snaggletoothed if it hadn't been for a good orthodontist. I've never regretted getting braces; our culture values straight teeth, and I enjoy having them. So what's the difference between getting braces and whitening your teeth? Between brow waxing and breast enhancement? Between lipstick and collagen injections?

We all make judgment calls about how much we'll artificially alter our appearances--about what's reasonable and what's just too much. When it comes down to it, there's nothing inherently evil about any of these things. If you bleach your teeth, that's fine! (I might do it someday!) I simply wish we lived in a culture that didn't give us so many messages saying, "Who you are isn't quite enough. But we can sell you the solution."

For now I think I'll stick with my somewhat white teeth. But looking at the photos above, my brows are begging me to find the tweezers....


Autumn said...

I love the fact that you guys (my blogging friends) obsess over the same girly type stuff I do, makes me feel a bit more "normal".... if that's even possible. Your teeth are fine!! I blogged about the same thing today (vanity really.. my own struggles and downfalls with it. So have a few other bloggers. Must be a January thing lol)

Crazy Mo said...

I'm lucky in that I have straight teeth. Always have. I remember, when I was a kid, begging my dentist to fit me with braces. All my friends had them, why couldn't I?

My recent trip to the dentist had me thinking the same thing as you, C. Beth. I don't drink red wine, but I do drink a disgusting amount of coffe and tea, which stains your teeth. I must admit that I'm seriously thinking about professional whitening.

But I'll draw the line at surgery...the wrinkles can stay.

Lindsay @ Makely said...

I'm lucky enough to have a dentist father, so I've gone a step beyond. Whitening was never enough for me because I had white spots on my teeth that would just get whiter. A few years ago, my dad put Lumineers on me and I love them! They are like veneers, only you don't have to damage or file down your original teeth to put them on. They are permanently whit, perfectly straight, and he even lengthened a few teeth that I always felt were too short. I definitely felt vain having the work done, but when it was free and sent my self esteem through the roof, so it was definitely worth it.

That being said, I like your teeth better in your first picture!

Eternal Lizdom said...

I like your teeth just as they are. And I think your last couple of paragraphs are spot on. There are so many things being pushed at us, telling us we aren't good enough, we aren't pretty enough, we need to have this look, this product, be this size and THEN we can finally be happy!

I'm not saying we shouldn't take care of ourselves! I tweeze my brows, long for a pedicure, work on getting healthier, buy clothes I think are cute, and so on.

I've been inundated with radio ads for a local plastic surgery group- blatantly advertising that you can be happier if you come and get bigger boobs. It really irritates me!!

Faith said...

Braces correct a problem, not always just an appearance problem. I had braces for 5 years because my bite was incorrect and I had teeth that would not come in.

Whitening is purely for beauty (or not - some people whiten too much so they glow - yikes!). Plus, whitening can damage your teeth and make them more sensitive.

I say it is going too far for vanity if it causes pain &/or is potentially damaging (botox, lipo, etc).

Call Me Cate said...

My husband had braces as an adult because his teeth were so bad. Not just appearance but he was having a lot of issues with cavities because he just couldn't brush some areas. I could benefit from braces but it would be purely cosmetic.

When I had my crown done, they did have me bleach my teeth for about a month. They made me custom bleaching trays and I noticed a huge difference. I occasionally rebleach just because I already have the trays and I can buy the gel inexpensively on Amazon. But somehow, I didn't end up paying for my bleaching trays - if I had to shell out $400 for them, I wouldn't have bothered.

It's always a hard question - how much is too much? What's reasonable? I guess the answer is that what works for one person might be too much for another. But I definitely agree that the constant pressure and marketing is overdone.

Rachel Cotterill said...

I had braces when I was little, but otherwise, my teeth wouldn't have fitted in my mouth. It would have made them hard to clean, etc. That's hygiene more than vanity.

Would I have my teeth whitened? Only if I wouldn't miss the cost, and was sure it wasn't doing any damage (something about putting bleach in your mouth sounds kind of icky, to me).

Bobbi said...

I think the top photo looks better than the bottom!

I bought a tray with whitening stuff right after college. If you forgot to keep up with the Crest White Strips, you might forget to keep up with dentist trays! I did. :)

silver star said...

I've heard sticking floss in peroxide before flossing can help with stains between teeth like I have, but I haven't done that enough to know if it really works or not. A dentist I went to before said whitening toothpaste was bad, but another I saw after that gave me some toothpaste that also whitens teeth. I know one that was checking out my husband's teeth didn't like the work another dentist did, so I never know what to think of any of them.

silver star said...

Sorry, I got off topic there, I think the first picture looks more natural and better than the second.

Anonymous said...

I would love to get my teeth whitened. Someday when I'm rich I will go get it done. I do think it's odd when you see celebrities and their teeth glow. Just a little whiter would be fine with me. No need to go to that extreme.