A year or two ago, I started noticing everyone’s teeth — and let me tell you, they were white. Out of nowhere, I would get taken aback by a sparkling set of ivory incisors I spotted on the street or find myself gawking at a coworker's perfect pearly whites during a meeting.
It’s sounds weird (and a bit creepy), I know. But it felt like everyone was privy to something that I wasn’t. I’d dabbled in whitening strips before and use whitening toothpaste, but I never noticed any significant difference. What was going on?
My fascination (okay, borderline obsession), with the whiteness of all the teeth surrounding me was only exacerbated every evening when I looked in the mirror. My teeth were far from corn-kernel yellow — but definitely not white. Then, I started making a habit of covering my teeth with my lips when I noticed yet another alabaster smile next to me. It was then that I knew something had to be done. This time, I would bring in the big guns.
I heard amazing things about cosmetic dentist Dr. Michael Apa from my coworkers, but I didn't want to get an in-office treatment. (Is that what everyone is doing?) Then, I discovered that that he has his own line of oral-care and beauty products, Apa Beauty. I decided to go with his Apa White Duo, which I could do at home. Although the $150 price tag is pretty steep, I wanted something that really got the job done. After some research, I discovered that his product is the closest thing on the market to getting take-home trays from your dentist (which average around $400) or having a dentist do an in-office whitening (which can be around $650).
The Apa White Duo contains five films (plastic strips that are thicker than a drugstore strip, but softer than a tray from the dentist) and a pen that work in tandem. The pen contains 18% carbamide peroxide (the bleach). The film is 20%. In comparison, Crest Whitestrips contain 10%. If you have sensitive teeth, you may prefer a lower percentage, but I didn't experience any discomfort with the high dosage.
I will admit, however, that I did feel a little uncomfortable during the long process. You must coat your front teeth with the product from the pen, wrap the film around your top and lower teeth, and then leave them on for 90 minutes — for five days in a row! The saliva definitely pooled in my mouth as sat on the couch, eagerly awaiting the buzz of my timer so I could rip those bad boys off. And for someone who works late and also likes to go out, having to dedicate an hour-and-a-half to teeth whitening for an entire work week meant my social life was pretty much shot.
I chalked it up to the equivalent of doing a cleanse: "Have to pass on dinner plans tonight, guys. I'm whitening this week!" was my go-to line. At least I still got to order takeout before I slapped on the films. But there's more: You also have to cut out teeth-staining goodies like coffee, red wine, and curry — basically anything with color — but I suppose sacrifices must be made.
After my stint of couch confinement and slobbery conversations, I instantly knew it was all worth it. My once dull-looking chompers were pearly and bright — and not in an "I just bleached my teeth chalk-white" way, which I was a bit nervous would be the case, thanks to the high peroxide percentage. Translation: No Ross Gellar situation to look at here. But even with my new wonderfully natural shade of white, my smile still turns a head or two — or at least mine in the mirror.
Apa White Duo, $150, available at Apa Beauty.