So, even as I’m working on the Non-Toxic Personal Care and Non-Toxic Home Care series, I decided to do a little teeth-whitening. Yes, you read that right. As I’m doing all sorts of extreme things to go ‘chemical-free,’ I decided to essentially BLEACH my teeth. Vanity is a funny thing…
I decided on Crest Whitestrips. Mostly because they are cheap and I happened to see them at Target.
The ingredient list is: Water, Glycerin, Hydrogen Peroxide, Carbomer 956, Sodium Hydroxide, Sodium Saccharin. OK, I’m not saying this sounded like a natural product, but I thought, ‘well, that’s not too bad… at least I’ve heard of most of those things.’ And the EWG rating is only a 3 (Moderate Hazard), with the most toxic ingredient being the hydrogen peroxide… And you only use them for ten days…
Almost immediately after the first use, I had terrible jaw and facial pain. I had just been getting over some congestion, so I assumed it was sinus issues (and, at first, it very well may have been, in part). I wanted to avoid taking any chemical pain killers (can you say “inconsistent?”) and so I tried some natural remedies, which helped a bit at first. As the days went on, my pain greatly increased and the natural remedies seemed to lose their effectiveness. On Sunday morning, I was really in tears and my husband encouraged (read: ordered) me to take some Ibuprofen, which really was a Godsend.
Another factor to this story is that I have some dental fill-ins in my front two teeth. With the three or four applications I had taken by Thursday or Friday, my teeth had whitened to the point that they looked noticeably whiter than the fill-in areas (the color of which is not affected by the Whitestrips). So, I had stopped using them. The pain had continued for the two or three days following, so I never really put two and two together.
Back to today (Monday). It’s Valentine’s Day, and I was trying to look extra spiffy for the husband, so I thought, ‘What’s the harm in one more application?’ My congestion was about gone, and my sinuses felt fine. Almost immediately following the Whitestrip application, my jaw pain returned. It was throbbing, and radiating up my face to my temples. It progressed quickly, and soon got so bad that I ended up taking a Ibuprofen again. And, on a whim, I decided to google “jaw pain Crest Whitestrips.”
I scanned the returns and quickly saw “throbbing, aching jaw pain,” “excruciating jaw pain,” “sharp pains throughout the front of my mouth,” “jaw and facial pain.” As I clicked on each review or description, I was amazed at how my experience is actually quite common! One commenter said that her dentists’ office recommended just taking Motrin regularly when you begin using the Whitestrips.
OK. I might do stupid things, like glue chemical strips to my mouth for a half hour per day despite trying to go chemical-free, but even I know that this pain is my body telling me something:
My husband is currently using the strips, as well. He has not experienced any pain. But that doesn’t mean that the chemicals are not entering his system, and it doesn’t mean that they are not affecting his body. I can’t make him stop using them, but I will try. From what I gathered in my google search (and is consistent with the first time I stopped using them), my pain should subside in about three days.
All in all, I’m very happy for this experience to shake me out of my vanity-stupor, and to confirm for me that, yes, everything we put in or on our bodies will have an effect (seen or unseen, felt or un-felt). We need to be diligent in making sure that the whole of that effect is something we can live with.
Sorta Related Extras:
*I found this site which lists some folk remedies for sinus issues. At the beginning of this whole miserable experience, when I think I may have had some sinus issues, too, I had reasonable success with the Apple Cider Vinegar cure. I happen to love the taste of vinegar, so I left out the honey.
*Check out these Natural Remedies for Migraines and Headaches.
*In the past few weeks, we’ve had great success using a homemade Vapor Rub recipe for both myself and my daughter as we were fighting off coughs and congestion. A much better alternative to those petroleum-based products!
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