great smile 88.
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When my dentist, Dr. Ari Greenspan, suggested I have my teeth whitened, I laughed. As Murphy's Law would have it, a filling I had had since childhood chose to fall out two days before I was scheduled to go abroad. This was in addition to about a zillion other work- and travel-related errands I had to accomplish in the 48 hours before my trip. Paying a visit to the dentist was the last thing I'd anticipated, and therefore had allotted no time to it. But emergencies are like that. They kind of creep up on you when you least expect them, and throw your to-do list out of kilter.
I was grateful to Greenspan for having fit me into his busy schedule to accommodate my own. By the time I arrived at his clinic, I had even resigned myself to Murphy's machinations. But tending to an immediate health problem when you're in a hurry is one thing; indulging a long-term vanity issue is quite another.
"You've got to be kidding me," I said, flashing a cigarette-and-coffee-tinted smile. Not only did I have no time for undergoing his "innovative bleaching" treatment, I protested, but my teeth were the least of my increasingly numerous cosmetic concerns.
"It takes 45 minutes," he said, whipping out pictures of patients' mouths. The contrast between the "before" and "after" tint of the teeth in the photos was as jarring as Greenspan's assurance that I'd be done in less than an hour was tempting. It couldn't hurt, I suddenly thought, to hit distant shores with a dazzling smile. The rest is gleaming history.
That was in July, a month before the launching of the "Great Smile" clinic on Weizman Street in Tel Aviv - the first of at least four branches Greenspan and partners Dr. Stephen Kurer and Dr. Phil Stemmer (the latter practices in England) intend to establish countrywide by the end of 2008.
Great Smile (based on American model "Bright Smile") is the commercial name of a unique method based on the use of special whitening gel and cold light rays. The technique - determined by the American Dental Association to involve the most modern whitening technology to date - lightens the tooth by an average of eight hue levels, without damaging its structure. The gel penetrates the outer layers of the tooth, and the "light-emitting diode" (LED) enhances the activity of the gel.
Discoloration derives from the microscopic cracks in the surface of the tooth absorbing everything we eat, drink and smoke. These cracks are caused by aging - which is why the elderly tend to have darker teeth than their younger counterparts. No wonder, then, that in a youth-focused era, having white teeth has become as cosmetically appealing as eliminating white hair and wrinkles.
The "beauty" of the Great Smile treatment, so to speak, is that unlike hair-dyeing - and far more invasive surgical face-lifting - it is not only quick, but its results, according to Greenspan, last for up to three years, depending on eating, drinking and smoking habits. Which is a good thing, since it costs NIS 2,800. (So far, I can only attest to its continuing effect after three months, in spite of coffee and cigarettes.)
An additional benefit - as far as I was concerned on the otherwise stressful day of the procedure - was the soft background music and dim lights, which provided a spa-like ambience. Normally, "torture" is the word that comes to mind when I think of a dentist's chair - not "relaxation."
After the procedure was completed, Greenspan warned me of possible dental sensitivity for the following 24-hour period. Indeed, for a day or so, I did experience some twinges, particularly in my front teeth. But they were bearable.
Less bearable, initially, was the reaction on the part of my colleagues. When I returned to the office immediately after the treatment, more than a few eyebrows were raised when I opened my mouth. At first, I have to say that I felt a bit like the Cheshire Cat in Alice in Wonderland: My teeth at that moment were whiter than the surrounding walls.
It took a few days for me to adjust to the new look. Since then, it's been smooth smiling all the way.
The writer was treated to the "Great Smile" procedure by Dr. Ari Greenspan, who performed it. For more information, see: www.gr8smile.co.il.