New Thing #87: Whitening Pre-Brush Rinse

Pre_Brush_RinseI'm not all that in love with my dentist's office these days. I think I'm going to have to give you a little dental history here.

It's not something I'm very proud of.

But I think in order to tell you about the pre-brush rinse that I'm going to write about I'd better give you the full picture.

There was a large period of time, spanning my college years and those shortly afterwards, where I didn't see a dentist. Those years also happened to be the years in which I drank soda like it was water.

It's not like it was totally by choice.

Well, the soda drinking was by choice. (Though, in fairness, I worked a lot of overnights, and soda at all hours helped me through that.)

But the dentist thing - I don't even know if I had coverage for a period of time. And then, when I did have coverage, I didn't want to go because I was convinced any dentist who looked at my teeth was going to yell at me for how horrible they were.

Fast forward to: I get married, and my wife gets me to see a dentist. The dentist does not yell at me - in fact - she's super-nice. I really liked this dentist. I had a cavity or two, I had a root canal or two (it's terrible when you lose count of the root canals you've had...I think I had one in my early college years...or late high school?...then again one or two recently), but then she had a baby and I had to start seeing the dentist who owned the practice.

According to all accounts, he's a good dentist. But I had such a bad experience with him one time that I wrote it all down. Here's what I wrote on February 8, 2010:

Since it's fresh in my mind, my public service to you. In case you're unsure whether or not you had a bad visit to the dentist, compare with mine, which has to rank among the all-time worst: 

1) You get there at 6pm for a regular 6-month cleaning. You leave at 8pm.  2) You sit at 3 different x-ray machines before anyone tells you why.  3) You are told you need a root canal.  4) In an effort to show you why you need a root canal, the dentist puts little plastic sticks into your gums to highlight the problematic tooth for (yet more) x-rays.  5) The dentist breaks one of the said plastic pieces inside your gum.  6) He asks, "You sure you're OK with all this?" as he digs to retrieve the piece of plastic. (My response: "Pain-wise, I'm fine." I didn't get into the inconvenience factor.)  7) The hygienist has a look like she might pass out. (I know the look, trust me.)  (Aside - I have concluded that I possibly have a super-human tolerance for dental pain.)  8) The dentist apologizes to you...repeatedly.  9) You leave the dentist's office with a prescription for amoxicillin.  10) When you show your wife the affected area, she says, "Whoa! There's a hole in your mouth!" 

All of this came to mind last week because I had another not-so-great appointment - this time with the dental hygienist. I was there for an hour-and-a-half for the regular cleaning and she was really beating around the bush. Clearly I had a problem but she didn't want to commit to telling me that I had a problem. She wanted me to come back to see the dentist (who wasn't there). She thought maybe my caps from the root canal were loose...but I think she couldn't think of any reason why this could have happened, and she was thinking, liability-wise, she didn't want to come out and say it herself. She wanted the dentist to take responsibility.

(Shortly after leaving the office, as I thought about how things could have gone so wrong, I remembered that while playing basketball in the fall I fell face-first to the gym floor. I had a fat lip, but really no other damage. Or so I thought. I now suspect I knocked some caps loose.)

Anyway. That's the history. Believe it or not, I've had some really good appointments in between the root canals. I pride myself on how well I take care of my teeth - I suspect, had I not done such a good job in the 'dark (non-dentist-seeing) years', I would have been in much worse shape when I went back to the dentist.

Except for one thing: staining.

I've stopped drinking soda, for about 5 years now, I think. But now I drink tons of coffee. And that stains the heck out of my teeth. At my last two appointments, the hygienists suggested a whitening pre-brush rinse - two separate hygienists suggested it and both raved about it. Luckily for the second hygienist, the suggestion came in the year I'm trying new there it is.

The rinse is very soapy. It's too early to tell if it's working, but it's an interesting sensation - it seems to get everything all lathered up in there before the toothbrush comes into play. What's really weird is that it's very bland - other than the froth it has no effect on my mouth. It almost dulls the mouth. But then, when I use Listerine after I brush, that feels even stronger than usual after the whitening rinse.

(I do worry sometimes that when I finish flossing and pre-brush rinsing and brushing and mouthwashing in the morning that it will be time to start the process over again because it's almost bedtime. It's becoming an ordeal.)

In conclusion, it may be time for a new dentist. (That would be an interesting New Thing for the fall when I have my next 6-month appointment.) My wife and I just discovered the dentist I used to like so much has her own practice now - maybe I'll switch back to her.

Thanks for reading this one. I guess I had some stuff to get off my chest. I didn't mean for it to go on as long as one of my dental appointments.

[I need to tell you that I originally wrote this Tuesday night, before my Wednesday appointment. But I saw the new 'other' dentist in the office on Wednesday, and she was great. She didn't think the crowns had any big problems. Clean bill of dental health. Me and the dentist are cool. I didn't want to change the post, though, because I wanted you to get a picture of the angst the dentist has brought me.]