Saturday, July 31, 2010

TV Teeth Whitening

When a TV production company invests in getting your teeth whitened one might feel that one was about to arrive. Arrive perhaps, or discover you’re a lost cause. My teeth are jagged, chipped and yellow, featuring orange and brown detailing. They have a certain ‘Middle Earth’ quality to them. Before we’d shot any TV footage, I was thus booked into The London Smile Clinic for a ‘Britesmile’ treatment: the number one in-chair treatment in the US. Nice one. A bright new me up ahead, right?If you were parting with £1,200 quid for a session, I reckon you’d be up to speed on the procedure. I wasn’t. Fully suited and with a roster of appointments for later that afternoon, I had no idea what was next. Suspicions were aroused when I was asked to select a film to watch during the procedure. I was alarmed to see that One Flew Over The Cuckoos Nest appeared in the comedy category. Where might Marathon Man sit, I wondered. Sport? I opted for Withnail and I, thinking it would lend a hedonistic element to the proceedings. One views the film through special goggles that are fitted to your head, just after your jaws are clamped open and your lips pinned back. Your gums are then daubed with a protective gel and your teeth are painted with a photo-reactive goop. Powerful ultraviolet lights are deployed once all the technicians have safely retreated to a separate operations room.
Not being able to speak for the next two hours, I requested pen and paper using sign language. I scrawled pleas for an explanation. Three to four sessions of twenty minute bursts of intense light exposure. Three to four? Apparently not everyone makes it past three. And the device placed on my chest? A panic button if the pain became too much. The pain? The shooting sensation you experience as the light penetrates your teeth. I began to see the light. Thank god I wasn’t paying for this privilege.
Naturally, I made it to the end of four. Machismo and pride got me through, my finger poised on the button throughout. The pain came in, resonating chimes channelled into teeth in random order, as if administered by an evil imp wilfully playing an ultraviolet glockenspiel. By ‘session’ four the shooting sensations were almost hitting shrill notes in my head as I pretended to fixate on the film. White tooth liberation awaited.
Once I was dismantled and hosed down my teeth had indeed been transformed to pale yellow. Most of the stains had gone too. Nice work Team Smile. Thank you. Now all I had to do was stay away from black coffee, red wine, and highly coloured food such as curries. Neigh problem, pal. Camomile tea, Gavi de Gavi, and some sort of anaemic fish supper would suffice. But at that point in time I was starving hungry, almost in a trance from the treatment and being held captive unexpectedly. I walked up Great Portland Street dazed and bemused. Opposite the Tube was a convenience shop I knew from years ago. My trance deepened and I found myself transfixed by the point of sale samosa cabinet.
How can someone get to nearly forty without knowing that a samosa is a sort of curry? My new red teeth were further coloured up the next morning while telling my mother how diligently I had stuck to white wine, and all I had to do now side step coffee for three days. Then it dawned on me that I was actually drinking an espresso at that very moment. A habit so entrenched I hadn’t even noticed the process. Freshly porous teeth took to the coffee like a dry fence takes creosote.
White teeth are overrated. I’m British, God damn it. I’ve spent years giving my entire body a hard time. Why should teeth be excused? American teeth are very nice, but they’ve all got the same bloody set. It counts for nothing that way. It’s more poetic to have eighteenth century looking railings. I’ll just keep mine hidden. I might extend further into the period and contract gout, and feign some sort of ‘scurvy-lite’. Might work as potent USP on TV, who knows? Georgian sea fairing dental style think I call it. Whitening? I’m having mine blackened for next season.

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