Ever since I was a little girl, I have absolutely loathed my smile. Every time I opened my mouth, my brain would immediately make me hyper aware of my teeth, which were not only crooked but also had a pale yellowish tint to it that even the most painful of dental regimes couldn't fix. Over the years, it has been a pretty gruelling journey of operations, braces, and irregular dentist check-ups to keep my dental hygiene in check. Couple this with a scary series of numbing injections, (much needed) anaesthetic, and a team of new dentists every round and you've got yourself a recipe for some serious dental anxiety!
So when I was asked to have a teeth-whitening experience at Adelaide Dental Spa, my nerves were tingling (and not just the ones in my mouth), because I have had a major phobia of dentists for well over 20 years now. Nonetheless, I had neglected my dental hygiene for a bit over two years since having my wisdom teeth operation (and what a ride that was!), so I knew that it was more a necessity at this point to give this a go.
A bit about Adelaide Dental Spa Owned by Paige Phung (Principal Dental Hygienist), Adelaide Dental Spa is a small family business in Port Adelaide that offers a holistic approach towards maintaining dental hygiene in a safe and accommodating space. The ethos of Adelaide Dental Spa is simple: to brighten one smile at a time in a calm and relaxing environment. Adelaide Dental Spa was born from two of Paige's sources of passion- excellence in dentistry and oral care and effective skincare solutions. With the goal of taking the fear out of visiting the dentist and instead creating a calming experience that is gentle and relaxing, Adelaide Dental Spa hopes to offer to its customers a medium of confidence within their smile, their skin, their face, and their teeth. Unlike most dental clinics, Adelaide Dental Spa provides its customers with a holistic and personalized experience that is built from developing authentic relationships and empowering individuals to be more in control of their health. While they may primarily focus on oral hygiene, Adelaide Dental Spa also has services around skin analyses, facials, microdermabrasion, chemical peels, and skin injectables (to name a few).
First impressions Upon walking into the Spa, I was pleasantly surprised to find myself feeling comfortable and welcomed into a space that would otherwise normally cause a mental breakdown. While it has components typical of a clinical area and screams sterile serenity (not that this is.a bad thing), the customer service instantly adds a level of warmth and nurturing into the mix. The aesthetic marries a mix of white-themed minimalism and nature-adorned succulents and plants that are carefully curated throughout the space and are bound to calm any and all nerves one might have upon visiting the dentist. After filling out the paperwork to outline the facts and perspectives around my dental hygiene and current routine, I was introduced to my Dental Hygienist for the day - the owner, Paige. Hand on heart, my anxiety was slowly starting to peak, but this was more due to the years of trauma around dental appointments. However, Paige presented with a friendly and approachable demeanour that led to what turned out to be quite an enjoyable and rejuvenating experience.
The Setting The setting is as you'd expect it to be (sterile and clinical) - but there's an exciting twist that takes the edge off when you're in the chair and getting the treatment. Staying true to their name of being a Dental Spa, there was a lovely little source of entertainment that was perched in the ceiling, complete with Netflix loaded onto it. To me, that is a luxury that is often not found in any other dentistry-specific spaces, but would be highly encouraged to help patients like myself put our nerves to ease. Now, we all have those comfort TV shows that we watch when we are sad, stressed, or are simply needing a distraction. For me, that show has always been FRIENDS, so given the situation I was faced with, you know for a fact that that's what was playing for the next few hours!
The Teeth Cleaning Process Prior to my teeth being whitened, Paige first inspected my teeth and gums and matched the shade of my teeth on the tooth colour scale. Unsurprisingly, it turned out to be towards the end of the colour scale (and not the end you wish for it to be in). Nonetheless, I knew that my oral health needed some TLC stat, and while I wouldn't be completely transparent about it in the past due to the fear of judgment, I didn't get that feeling when I met Paige. Rather than being treated to the typical "you need to go to the dentist every three-six months" schpiel, I was instead reassured and acknowledged that this is normal in people who experience a severe form of dental anxiety. Based on the severity of the shade, Paige recommended to have a dental clean prior to the whitening process. While this was pretty much my worst nightmare, Paige's gentle approach and patient attitude towards providing myself with quality service thoroughly helped with getting through this bit. The teeth cleaning process took a bit longer in my case, since there was quite a bit of build-up. However, Paige kept me engaged and calm throughout the process and regularly check up on how I was going with the pain tolerance (if there was any). She was also able to provide with brief explanations of why my teeth were presenting with specific issues and tips on how to ensure that they are well-looked after post-clean.
The Teeth Whitening Process The teeth cleaning process provided for a brilliant transition into the whitening process. First up, there is a coating of resin that is applied to the gums, so that the bleach component of the whitening process does not cause any adverse reactions. It is crucial to let your dental hygienist know if you experience any burning or tingling sensation around your gums, as this may result in painful ulcers if left unattended for more than a few minutes. With an ETA of 90 minutes for the process to take effect, Paige helped with fitting a mouthguard that sat over my teeth in a fairly comfortable position. Just be prepared to have your mouth wide open to accommodate the mouthguard and try to distract yourself by continuing to watch something on Netflix - TV shows or movies with themes of lighthearted humor are recommended, although if you are amused easily and tend to laugh at the smallest of things, maybe opt for something with a bit of drama, so that you don't laugh your mouthguard off (unlike someone I know)!
Up until the last minute, when Paige removed the mouthguard and made me rinse my mouth, I still couldn't picture myself with a different shade of my teeth. However, when she brought out the color scale again, the shade of my teeth went up by a whopping five levels and for the first time, I knew the meaning of the phrase "pearly whites". It is pretty incredible what a noticeable difference 90 minutes can do! It is also important to note that for the first 24 hours, your teeth will feel extremely sensitive so be prepared to talk less and eat less. Basically, any edible item that may stain your clothes will stain your teeth, so steer clear and eat clear (foods and drinks). As part of the experience, I also received a complimentary pack of post-whitening aftercare, which included a few tubes of Sensodyne toothpaste, a handy little guide on what foods and drinks to enjoy (and avoid) for the next 24 hours, and a couple of dental floss accessories.
Adelaide Dental Spa has a range of amenities and well-qualified staff that are there to make sure that any worries or fears you may have around visiting the dentist are put at ease. By providing customers like myself with a highly individualized treatment, the level of professionalism far exceeded my expectations. In addition to encouraging oral health care by sharing tips around maintaining it regularly, I also felt like my needs were being attended to in a judgment-free space. Thanks to this experience, it may have also reinstated the idea of going to the dentist a breeze. The TV on the ceiling is a fantastic touch that helps myself as the customer stay distracted and keep my nerves to a minimum, while owner Paige did a fantastic job around cleaning and whitening my teeth in a friendly and professional manner. As someone who has loathed her smile for a majority of her life, I walked out of Adelaide Dental Spa with the biggest beaming pearly whites-adorned smile on my face and I can't wait to go back to maintain my healthy gums and teeth.