Whiter Teeth: Vanity or Upkeep

On Wednesday, I submitted myself to a teeth whitening procedure for the very first time.  The hygienist strapped me into the chair, and she placed something in my mouth that exposed my pearly whites.  Protective gauzes or something like them were placed around my gums and teeth.  Lastly, the hygienist applied a protective substance along each tooth at the gum line.  After that, my teeth underwent three fifteen minute sessions of exposure to ultraviolet light.  About the only cool thing with this whole process had to do with the fact that I wore bright, orange, UV shades.

When the second of the three sessions wrapped up, the hygienist asked me an unusual question.  She wanted to know if I experienced any sensitivity in my teeth.  I shook my head in the negative, and then thought to myself, what on earth is she talking about?  Little did I know what I would experience in the third session.  Halfway through the final session, I twitched after experiencing a needle like pain in my lower front tooth.  Another minute whizzes past, and the needle-like pain happens again.  At this point, I wanted to knock the damn UV machine away to end the torture.

During this time, I rose up my right arm in order to signal someone given the sharp pain.  For a split second, I thought to myself about the woefully understated question by the hygienist about teeth sensitivity.  From my perspective, I was experiencing sharp pain at unexpected moments, which caused me to whince.  I much prefer having a tooth pulled in the dentist’s office because Novocaine numbs the area.  Unfortunately, there was no use of a local anesthetic.  The irony is that I have a high tolerance for pain, but this teeth whitening process crossed my threshold.

If anyone desires to undergo similar treatment, I urge him or her to think it through a bit.  My teeth are whiter after the procedure than before it; however, I find it highly unlikely that I will rush to do this again.  Granted, I signed the waiver about the sensitivity issue, so there really is no reason to complain.  All that aside, I kept thinking in the chair about the vanity of teeth whitening.  There are so many in this world who are unable to even afford a regular dental checkup let alone a teeth whitening procedure.  I wondered to myself the morality or ethics behind spending hundreds of dollars on my appearance.  Am I really this vain or maintaining how I look?  Is it vanity or upkeep?

Ok, so the last thoughts of the previous paragraph borders along exaggeration and falsehood.  It took me awhile to warm up to teeth whitening.  Who cares about whiter teeth if one does not take care of them: brushing, flossing, and regular checkups?  I really saw no need to whiten my teeth.  Apparently, this is the most requested dental procedure in the Western world.  The dental industry hauls in billions every year, but that is not all.  It is an ancient procedure, too.  For example, the ancient Romans employed a method of teeth whitening that used a combination of goat’s milk and urine.  All I can say to that is the modern method has come a long way.

When I reflect on the ancient Roman method of teething whitening, and the cost of today’s procedure, it seems like mankind will go to great lengths to maintain a youthful appearance.  This smacks of wanting to live forever while facing one’s mortality.  Our culture prizes youth, even worships it, rather than giving the Lord his due.  King Solomon is right, God has set eternity in the heart’s of men (Ecclesiastes 3:11, ESV).  Maybe there is no correlation between teeth whitening and eternity.  From where I sit, it might better to enjoy the whiter teeth and to embrace the fact that Jesus had them, too.  What are you talking about you say?

Have my readers ever read this verse in the Old Testament: His eyes are darker than wine, and his teeth whiter than milk” (Genesis 49:12, ESV).  Even if the teeth whitening procedure caused me some momentary discomfort, I can take solace in the fact that my Lord has extremely white teeth.  He does not need to shell out hundreds of dollars to keep them white…he has a glorified body, and sits at the Father’s right hand in glory.    




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