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In the dentist's chair for a whiter shade of pale

A new dental technique has been developed in America to make people’s teeth several shades whiter. Tamworth Herald reporter Mark Cocklin went to try the £500 treatment.

As he introduced The Osmonds on Top Of The Pops Tony Blackburn once joked that you could still see their teeth if you turned your TV’s brightness down.

And they’re not the only ones. It seems to be a prerequisite for most pop idols and film stars to have shining rows of gnashers for us mere mortals to be dazzled by.

The question crossed my mind ‘how do they do that?’.

People, in general, don’t have ‘Hollywood teeth’, and often their pearly whites are more like nearly whites.

And imagine my horror when I discovered that everyday activities like smoking and drinking coffee or red wine could stain your teeth.

I’m a long way off being Shane MacGowan (less talent for a start) but I was suddenly starting to feel a little yellow around the gills.

Then I saw the film Intolerable Cruelty which features George Clooney getting some kind of teeth whitening involving a machine shining a blue light on him.

I found out later, this was a ‘BriteSmile’ treatment that bleaches your teeth whiter with a combination of a peroxide gel and a light which activates its ingredients somehow (no, I don’t know how it works).

You won’t be surprised to know it’s an American invention but I discovered it was being offered at a dentists’ surgery in Tamworth.

  • Mark shows off his Hollywood smile
  • When looking into doing a feature on teeth-whitening, I asked my own dentist if undergoing such a process was a ‘wise’ thing to do.

    “You should ask a wise man,” he joked, but added that it could be considered beneficial if an improvement in appearance made patients feel better about themselves.

    With my traditional British fear of going to the dentist, I was kind of hoping for a clip around the ear with a ‘Get out, you vain sod’.

    And so, I found the treatment was available in Tamworth at Distinctive Dentistry – fittingly located behind a shiny, bright shop front in an old, Victorian building in Lower Gungate.

    It looks like a new practice but, I later discovered, it had previously been located in Ankerside shopping centre for 14 years when it was known as Ankerside Dental Practice.

    The man who was going to effect my startling transformation from alright to bright white was Dr Quasir Jaffri.

    Sporting a winning, white smile himself, he told me: “It used to be that people would only come to the dentist if they were in some pain, and then they’d go away again.

    “Nowadays, people actually want to come to the dentist.”

    The treatment itself took a bit over an hour with three applications of the whitening gel each followed by 20 minutes of exposure to the peculiar looking blue light machine.

    I started to get a bit of face-ache with my mouth clamped open for the whole time, but it wore off after a while.

    After a bit of dozing off and the occasional thought that I should have brought a Walkman, it was over.

    Dr Jaffri seemed pleased with the result after comparing my teeth with replica teeth of different shades to measure the change.

    The old chompers had gone eight shades lighter apparently. I looked in the mirror and saw they were definitely brighter.

    He sent me on my way with the advice to eat nothing that would stain my teeth for the next 24 hours.

    For me, that meant a diet of milk, water, bananas and plain spaghetti (not all at once – that would be disgusting).

    I don’t know how much of a difference my new looking canines will really make to my everyday life, but I flashed a smile at a stranger as I walked through town and it felt all white.