The one where June tries to bleach her teeth, dies

I’ve bleached my teeth before. When I was getting married—oh, you should say a silent thanks to the deity of your choice that there weren’t blogs when I was getting married. Because nothing mattered more than my looks for the year leading up to my wedding day and I’d’ve spent that year talking about nothing else. I lived on water, peaches and Lean Cuisines. Yeah, yeah. Don’t bore me with how much sodium and MSG those have. In 1997, Lean Cuisine were the starving bride’s meal of choice.

Every day after work, this other girl, Angie (who had already gotten married so why did she bother), and I would head across the park to a gym, where if you lived or worked in this suburb of LA (glamorous Commerce, California, where I proofread for a textbook publisher), you could work out free. They had step aerobics in a trailer next to the gym, and rather than use the free gym with weights and stuff, we inexplicably did step aerobics, using two steps, every weekday without fail.

Then I’d drive the hour home, because LA, and eat my dinner peach and I’d down 47 more pounds of water.

I also went to the dentist and got a teeth-bleaching kit so I could dazzle m’crowd. I was gonna be bones and white teeth bones. ‘Twas the theme of my wedding. If they’d yet invented those freestanding places you drive to to get your teeth bleached, they must have been exorbitantly $$ because otherwise I’d have used them.

As it was, my dentist made me a mold of my teeth, then sold me this goop that twice a day for like an hour each time I had to put on and live my life. Seeing as the only time in the day I wasn’t eating peaches or leaping aerobically onto a step was during work, so I’d put that terrible goopy tray on at 10 a.m. and then again at like 4:00.

I remember one assy coworker accused me to trying to “get attention” by doing this during work, but all I did was slip on a guard and lean over my work and read it. I had a job where I literally never had to speak or look at anyone if I didn’t want to. I just took my work and slid it back into the in-box for whoever the hell looked at it next.

People are forever accusing me of trying to garner attention when in fact attention just comes to me. I don’t have to ask for it. I’ve never once said to myself, “How can I get anyone to notice me at this juncture?”

Anyway, to tell you the truth, I don’t remember my teeth looking any whiter.

Then in 2010, I was getting my hair cut at this salon right across from Ned’s old apartment but I didn’t know Ned yet because I was married. Stuff like that is weird, isn’t it? When you think back on a time you were near someone who’d become major in your life but you were blissfully unaware at the time.

Anyway, a drag queen worked there (at the hair salon, not Ned’s apartment), doing manicures and so forth, and she was running a special on teeth bleaching. I signed up mostly because I wanted to hang around a drag queen. It was two sessions, under a blue light. After, I tried to friend said drag queen on Facebook and got an “I’m not accepting more friends, but follow my page!” response. I wrote back, “You’re kidding” and that was the end of that.

To tell you the truth I don’t recall my teeth looking any whiter.

Two years ago, I was at my dentist because I used to go places and not fear it would kill me to do so. I saw in the corner a contraption. “Is that for teeth bleaching?” I asked. I never, ever, ever give up because Winston Churchill was huge on teeth bleaching.

So I made an appointment to get my teeth bleached on what turned out to be the day after my car accident, so then I had to cancel cause concussion, then when I finally went, they laid me in a chair, put this whole thing over my face, stuffed my mouth with cotton, laid another thing over my mouth, then shone this light on my face and I said,

“Ahh-ahhh. AHHHH! Ahhh-ahhh!!”

“You want me to stop?”

“Ahh-HAAA.”

I had a total claustrophobic panic. I was totally smothering under all that shit they’d piled on my face and nose and nose and face and then they’d crammed my mouth with shit and where was breathing supposed to happen, exactly? My gills?

I couldn’t do it. And I was totally humiliated and felt like a diva but my whole back was sweating in a panic and I left that chair looking like the Shroud of Greensboro.

“You can buy our at-home bleaching kit instead,” they said. “We already made a mold of your teeth for your at-home touchups anyway.”

So I did, mostly because I felt I owed them something for smothering me to death and rescheduling and all.

Then for two years that whitening kit has sat there mocking me. I’ve been busy worrying about my bladder and my ovaries and my pandemic. But this weekend, I saw it and thought, What if I emerged from this cocoon looking marvelous? Sure, I’ve gained 25 pounds and my silver roots are two inches long and I’ve shot absolutely nothing in my face for more than a year so I look like the puppet Madame, but what if I emerged from this cocoon looking marvelous because white teeth?

Because history has shown teeth whitening has a dramatic effect on me.

So Sunday night I got the mold of my teeth out, and the gel, which is almost expired so good thing I got it out. I read the instructions and carefully applied it to the mold. Then I slid it onto my teeth and thought of that fekking bitch from the textbook place, accusing me of seeking attention.

“I’m doing this all alone, in the privacy of my home. Bitch,” I said to her. And as you can see I didn’t go on about it in my blog later.

I shut off the bathroom light and moved to the living room where

Ow.

Ow!

“OWWW!” I said out loud, by the time I reached the couch. “OWWW! AH AH AH AH AH OH MY GOD OH!”

Edsel is acutely aware of my every move and mood, and this outburst rendered him into a nautilus shape. He was terrified. So I tried to keep my emotions on the inside, where they belong, but

MOTHER

OF

CHRIST

the pain was exquisite. EXQUISITE.

It was in my lower back teeth, on both sides. It literally felt like someone was doing dental work to me with no Novocain. Oh my GOD, it hurt.

I minced to the sink and ripped the mold out my mouth and even though I was scared for water to hit it, I rinsed that crap out my mouth.

BOING, BOING, BOING, went my nerves in my teeth.

The pain was all I could think of.

“Am I going to have to go to the ER and catch COVID because of my stupid bleached TEETH?” I thought. I mean, that’s how bad the pain was.

I minced to the cupboard and took some Advil and minced to the couch (I learned to mince during pain or sickness from my Aunt Kathy) and willed myself to be calm while my teeth said BOING! BOING! BOING!!!

After about 40 minutes of exquisite pain, and I wish I were into pain because that would’ve made it a lot more pleasant, it subsided.

You’ll be stunned to hear I threw the gel out. I also threw the teeth mold out, as I would be scared even a trace of that gel is in there and just the thought makes m’teeth ache.

So that’s the history of my teeth bleaching. Stay tuned for next week’s history channel, when we’ll explore all the ways I’ve tried blush.

Toothily,
June

49 Comments

  1. So, I am catching up on here today after the crazy storm we had in Texas. I also long for white teeth, and a few years ago was told to brush with activated charcoal a couple of times a week. I bought the activiated charcoal capsuls, broke a few open in a jar (this is messy). I dipped my wet toothbrush in the black powder and scrubbed my teeth. It looks horrible, but after I rinsed, by teeth felt incredible! I have been told that my teeth are much whiter and I think they are. I do it a couple of times a week because it feels so good and my teeth feel so clean!

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  2. I know the mincing that you speak of; I got otitis last week and the exquisite pain made me think I had a problem with my molars but alas, it was all in the ear. I’ve never know this pain so it was shocking to me.

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  3. Lovely post June. Wincing in sympathy here. I am too much of a coward to try bleaching my teeth. I even avoid toothpastes that promise “whitening”.

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  4. Another great thing I noticed about getting older was that my teeth were shifting horribly. So when my son got braces, I asked his orthodontist for retainers. I occasionally wear them at night, and even though it isn’t romantic, I have stopped my teeth from turning into an Edsel tribute band. Anyway, last week, I lost my upper retainer, so yesterday I had to go to the orthodontist and get that gel impression made for a new one. I so feel you on the panic attack. When that gel was put in and that giant mouth guard went in, I could not breathe. Plus, the guy was leaning up against me and, well, Covid. So that was fun. To make matters worse, he screwed up the impression. Two times. Had to live through it over and over until he finally got it right. Horrid. From now on, I am treating those retainers like Fabrege eggs.

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  5. I LIVED on Lean Cuisine in my 20s. The Glazed Chicken was the bomb. Except after eating it, I’d still be so hungry I’d want to gnaw on my arm. It’s “diet” food because of the tiny portions. I didn’t need/want to lose weight for my wedding because I was already slender but about a week or two beforehand, I got so stressed out that I couldn’t eat and lost about 5 lbs. I didn’t have time to have my dress altered so you can tell it’s a little loose in my pictures. But I still looked gorgeous. And I have never looked as good since.

    Oh, tooth pain is the WORST. For a few years, my soft drink of choice was Fresca. I loved me the Fresca. Especially mixed with vodka. But my teeth did not. All the citrus acid wore away my tooth enamel and any time something cold or hot or even room temperature hit my teeth OH MY GOD the pain was horrific. I did not know what was causing it so I went to my dentist and well, no more Fresca, I started using Sensodyne toothpaste and I have to use a straw to drink anything. I can only imagine the damage (and pain) bleach would have done to my teeth on top of the worn tooth enamel.

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  6. Ouch. So glad you were able to get it out of your mouth! I bought some of those strips a couple of years ago – they were on sale at Sam’s. I used them once – still have them but not anxious to try them again. Someone I knew said to rinse your mouth in peroxide. Yeah, that sounds great doesn’t it?
    Your teeth look great Junie! Let it be.

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  7. I was literally crying like a baby when I went for my first root canal. This was before they even touched me. Imagination run wild.

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  8. Teeth bleach makes my gums irritated. I guess because it was so old, it intensified in the tube?

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  9. I am a dental wuss with very sensitive teeth. There will be no bleaching for me though I need it. I dream of hitting the lottery and having sedation dentistry.
    A little extra weight is nature’s botox. Generally faces with extra weight have less wrinkles. The weight fills the wrinkles out so you have “done” that like so many others also have (myself included). Princess Diana’s plump step romance writing grandmother said, ” After a certain age a woman must select her body or her face. I have selected my face.”

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  10. You’ve saved me so much money with your reports of … well, just about everything gone unexpectedly bad. Or some form of haywire. Your posts are like PSAs. Thanks, Joon!

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  11. I was at the dentist years ago and the dentist doesn’t really bother me, I mean I don’t like it but I am ok. Well they did an impression and all that gunk went down my throat, I was flopping around in that chair like a fish out of water and the one assistant lady was YELLING at me to calm down. I was gagging and couldn’t breathe and they physically held me down. When they took the impression out a long esophagus piece of the impression came out and the woman who was holding me down said why didn’t you tell us this went down your throat! Oh, was livid. Gives me the gags just remembering it. Needless to say I switched dentists…..

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  12. Every one of my teeth zinged in sympathy with yours.
    I can’t do the whitening because I have so many crowns and also bonding to fill in the gap between my Bucky Beaver front teeth.
    I don’t know why they can’t invent a non toxic painless paint-on whitener.
    Sheesh, get on that please.

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  13. I LOL’d to you being accused of seeing drama. It does find *you* we could not handle if you went looking for it too.

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  14. When we lived in Vermont, our new dentist offered us both a free bleaching kit, mold and all.
    Bill could use his with no problem, but the bleach made my gums bleed. I minced all the way to the trash can and threw it out. Aunt Kathy

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  15. Your gills. Too funny.

    I did the Crest white strips once. Made my teeth feel weird, like tingly and sensitive. Borderline pain. Maybe just discomfort. Decided not worth it, so I totally support you ditching the whole process if it caused that much pain.

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  16. As I was reading this, I had pain right along with you. I’ve always had problems going to the dentist and swear that novocaine just doesn’t “take” on me. Just buy some red lipstick, June. I’ve read that it makes your teeth look whiter.

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  17. Oh Lord, I also get claustrophobic at the dentist because I’m such a mouth breather. She has learned to work fast or give me lots of breathing time. One time, I actually went into such a panic and was able to signal to her that I was going to vomit. Her assistant had to run and get a trashcan for me. That was pleasant.
    My ENT has been after me for years to have turbinate surgery. It’s a procedure where they Roto-Rooter your nostrils so that you can breathe better. I haven’t had it done yet so I panic whenever I can’t breathe easily through my mouth.

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  18. oh my palms were sweating just reading this,… dental pain is my Kyrpton. I use nitrous oxide for cleanings. I couldn’t handle the bleaching process, I know… and I use Sensodyne every day, 2x a day.

    When I was a child, we had a dentist straight out of Running Man. Scarred me for life. (Im 60+ now; this was at least 50 years ago.)

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    1. Oh Pam, I am so glad to hear that I’m not the only one who has to have nitrous oxide for cleanings! I’ve never had a bad experience at the dentist, but my imagination is pretty vivid and I just can’t handle it. Its embarrassing, but its either that or I shake and break out in nervous hives!

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    2. My dad said our (all of the kids on our street went to the same dentist) horrible dentist was worse than the army dentists during WWII. That’s when the great dentist rebellion happened in our family. There are four of us adults, all in our 70s, suffering from dental PTSD. That’s why I insist on taking Valium before any dental work!
      Tee

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      1. Tee, me, too. With the Valium. My dentist understands and when he tells me that something needs to be done I ask him how much to take and he will actually tell me. .25 mg, .50 mg., .75 mg, 1 mg? Only mine is Ativan. It makes flying possible, too. With an airline, I mean.

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      2. Me, too! My childhood dentist was nasty. My family doctor prescribes Xanax for me just for dental visits. I carefully hoard it like I’m Smaug the dragon or something. One never knows when a dental emergency might arise.

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  19. I felt your pain! Dental pain is the worst pain ever. My dentist, fmr., refused to do whitening because my teeth are so sensitive. That’s scary to think some ingredient(s) must have intensified right on the shelf.

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  20. Lovely post Coot.
    I wonder if the bleaching gel went bad? I had a special shampoo that was supposed to help produce new hair growth that went bad and it felt like my scalp was on fire. I was running around like my head was on fire drippin wet. When I talked to the dermatologist she told me it had infact gone bad and not to use it again. Duh. Like I want to have the sensation of a bonfire of the follicles.
    You look beautiful all the time. You don’t need fillers or bleach. You are gorgeous inside and out.

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  21. I have had this same pain happen! Brought me to my knees. You have to prep your teeth for a couple of weeks prior to bleaching. Use a special toothpaste like Sensodyne.

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      1. As another note, you can get a lesser percentage on the gel which is what I do now. And then use it for only 30 minutes a day for several days. I just hate to think about you throwing out a $250 investment.

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  22. Mouth/tooth/dental pain is the worst. I had both of my children without so much as a chewable aspirin, was up and practically dancing the Frug right after my hysterectomy, but GAWDALMIGHTY I plead for serious drugs for dental pain.

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