Sunday, April 15, 2012

My Zoom Whitening Experience (With Pictures!)

Recently, my fiance and I snatched up a Zoom Whitening deal on Groupon because we wanted to get our best smiles ready for the big day.  I thought it might be helpful to describe my experiences in case any of you readers are looking to do laser whitening and aren't sure what all is involved, and I'll show some before and after pics too.

My dentist charges 700-800 dollars for laser whitening.  Part of that is for the whitening session itself, and part is for custom trays for maintenance.  Although I like my dentist a great deal and I wanted to whiten my teeth, I wasn't willing to spend that kind of money without being sure it would work, so when the Groupon deal came up, I thought that would be a great chance to try it out at a reasonable cost.
What is Zoom?
If you Google Zoom Whitening, you'll get plenty of information, but the short and sweet version is this: it's a laser whitening treatment that uses a bleach solution, activated with a special light, to whiten any natural teeth.  If your teeth are capped or you have veneers, whitening will not work.  They must be your natural teeth.

The dentist doing our Zoom treatments recommended that you have a professional cleaning within the last year.  I've heard some dentists recommend within the last 6 months, but both my fiance and I had our routine cleaning within 6 weeks.  Neither of us had cavities or any signs of decay, so we were good candidates for Zoom.

I have used Crest Whitestrips a few times before, and I knew that a lot of people experienced extreme sensitivity.  Although I've only had one experience where the pain was bad and I had to remove the strip and I don't have sensitive teeth, I wanted to make sure I could do the whole Zoom treatment without pain.  So, I switched from my normal toothpaste, Crest 3D Vivid White, to a sensitive toothpaste: Sensodyne Pronamel.  I used this for about 2 months before Zoom, along with Act Flouride mouthwash.  My fiance elected not to change his routine, and continued using 3D Vivid White and his normal mouthwash.

The Process
The full Zoom process will probably take over an hour, but our Groupon included only 2 rounds, which was sufficient for both of us.  The first step is to prepare your mouth/lips for stretching around the contraption that holds your mouth open so your teeth remain dry and exposed to the light.  Carol, my dental technician, coated my lips and the surrounding area with vitamin E gel.  

Then she placed this large rectangular shaped contraption in my mouth.  It stretched my lips out, and when it was situated, I was told to bite down to hold it in place.  She put gauze around the sides, top, and bottom of my mouth to keep saliva from getting on my teeth.  This was actually the only part of the whitening process that I found painful - it pushed against my front top gums (right under my nose) and hurt, but as soon as she would let go and stop pushing, the pain would stop.

Up next was protecting my gums.  Carol painted a liquid on my gums, then held a small blue light over them to harden the gel.  It wasn't until later that I saw it was something very similar to bathtub caulk.  This was a good protection for the gums so they don't get bleached or cause pain during the whitening process.

Finally, she blended a bleach solution on my teeth, then put the Zoom light right up to my mouth, where I held still under the light for 15 minutes.  After the first round, she rinsed off my teeth and applied another round of bleach and I sat under the light for another 15 minutes.  I had brought my Kindle and iPhone with me, but because of the positioning of the light, I wasn't able to use either.  I basically just sat back, relaxed and daydreamed while my teeth whitened.

I had zero pain during the entire process, and only had one instance of pain a couple hours later.  My fiance, on the other hand, started with tingling which moved into pain so bad he wanted to stop the process early.  He made it through both rounds, but definitely did not want a third round.  We were both happy with our results, and walked out with take-home trays for an additional whiter shade.


I will use the take-home trays and continue to steer clear of coffee and wine until after the wedding.  I do drink soda, but I use a straw and make efforts to keep it away from my teeth.  Here's hoping for a nice bright smile on the big day!