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Teeth Whitening: My Big Fat Story

by Joe Bulger DDS

Teeth Whitening System Discovered

Way back in the mid-90s, I was an early adopter of tooth bleaching, as they called it back then.

Story about teeth whitening systemes and experience Who doesn’t LOVE white teeth?

Those were the pioneer days for Cosmetic Dentistry and whitening teeth was such a novel thing. Everyone walked around with discolored teeth back then, and a smile quickly revealed one’s age.

Extensive crowns and veneers were the only means to enhance a smile. Very expensive, very exclusive.

I found out about Teeth Bleaching (as it was called back then) in a dental journal. I was eager to know if it actually worked.  So I decided to use myself as a guinea pig to make sure it was safe and effective before I recommended any Teeth Whitening System to my patients.

I ordered the product from California – ground zero for Teeth Whitening – and began my journey.

Easy, Fast and While You Sleep

Those gooey first-generation products were a bit messy, but I was still impressed by the fast results. It was so easy, and felt great to have people notice and compliment my smile. I began to wholeheartedly recommended a Teeth Whitening System to my patients.

Back then everybody had dull, yellowish teeth.

It was so convenient wearing the custom-fitted trays at night while I slept. I would wake up with whiter teeth. How brilliant is that?!

In the beginning I had whitened only the top ones and used the dramatic contrast with my bottom teeth as a live demonstration. After about 6 months of that, I grew tired of having a two-tone smile, and whitened the bottom teeth to match the top ones.

Having white teeth was a real attention-grabber. By today’s standards, my teeth would have seemed normal. Back then everybody had dull, yellowish teeth. So by contrast, my smile practically glowed.

Most people I met were amazed how bright my smile looked. Like that Friends episode where Ross bleaches his teeth – my teeth were almost glowing in the dark. Maybe I’m exaggerating a little, but back in the 90s my smile was unusually bright by comparison.

Teeth Whitening - Royal York Dental 416-231-0550 Wouldn’t you like a whiter brighter smile?

Shockingly White Teeth

Not long after whitening my teeth, I ran into some dental school classmates at one of our Dental Conventions. This was before Teeth Whitening was known in our profession.

I’ll never forget how they stopped dead in their tracks when they saw my smile. They were shocked how white my teeth were.

A few dentists thought it was amazing and immediately jumped on board to make Teeth Whitening part of their own dental practices. Others thought it was dead wrong to have such “unnaturally-white” teeth.

“Wow” I thought to myself, “How could some dentists be so excited by Teeth Whitening, and others be so disgusted?”

Here’s the thing. Some dentists strictly focus on dental diseases, not on the benefits of a beautiful white smile. It’s still like that today.

Some dentists just don’t get it regarding Smile Beauty and the benefits of Cosmetic Dentistry. Personally, I believe health and beauty go hand in hand.

High School Reunion

A few years after whitening my teeth, I though Teeth Whitening had become mainstream. The Teeth Whitening process had literally revolutionized Cosmetic Dentistry – making an attractive smile accessible to almost everyone.

So many yellow teeth in the crowd!

Teeth Whitening was so easy, effective and affordable I couldn’t understand why anyone wouldn’t have it done. Let me add non-invasive to that list of benefits. Other cosmetic options, like Crowns and Veneers, require that your natural teeth would be compromised by the reduction of healthy tooth structure.

As a Teeth Whitening Dentist, I’ve helped thousands of people achieve whiter brighter smiles. For many years, I was one of the top-producing dentists Canada-wide in terms of Teeth Whitening.

So here I was at a high school reunion in 1998 – the year I turned 40 – and it was my turn to be shocked. So many yellow teeth in the crowd!

But then I remembered, these people were still patients of older dentists who weren’t exactly hip to Cosmetic Dentistry and Teeth Whitening Systems. In fact, “good old Doctor Bob” probably just stuck to plugging holes in teeth with that nasty mercury-based amalgam.

Acceptance of Teeth Whitening Systems

Experience helps.

It took years for Teeth Whitening Systems to be widely accepted within our profession. Even then it was driven more by consumer demand. So many dentists had taken a hard-line anti-cosmetic stand in those early years it would literally take a new generation of dentists to evolve our profession.

Fortunately the evolution did happen. You can now get your teeth whitened through almost any dental office, and other countries are quickly catching up. That’s not to say every office will give you an equal result. There are differences in product and technique that give better results with less sensitivity. Experience helps.

In closing, what was once so rare (a bright white smile) has become routine. And that’s a wonderful thing.

Signature for a Toronto Cosmetic Dentist.

Dr. Joe :)


Dr. Joe Bulger

About the Author: is a West Toronto dentist. He’s also the founder of Royal York Dental – a respected dental clinic serving Etobicoke since 1950.


{ 27 comments… read them below or add one }

1 roxyd32 October 6, 2010 at 9:06 pm

When I initially started whitening back in the day, I was told to only do the top teeth as those are all that really show… I thought it was a great idea.. That is until I like you started noticing the difference… Great post! LOL.. I only recently started whitening my lower teeth, and overall I’m pleased with having a matching top and bottom row.. :)

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2 Toronto-Etobicoke Dentist - Joe Bulger October 7, 2010 at 12:14 pm

Thanks for sharing that Roxy. It’s mostly the top teeth that show when we smile. So I can understand why people would think only the top ones need to look good. Yet it’s the bottom teeth that show when we talk, and most of us do a lot more talking then smiling.

Joe 😀

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3 Felicia @ No Deposit Poker October 7, 2010 at 3:29 am

Hi Dr. Joe, I’m so jealous about your white teeth! I live in Asia, so I’m not much aware of these nightly teeth whitening systems that you used to whiten yours. As you recall, I was tricked to buying the teeth whitening pen by _ _ _ + gate..Since then, the only procedure to teeth whitening I believe that really works is the one that uses laser.

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4 Toronto-Etobicoke Dentist - Joe Bulger October 7, 2010 at 12:34 pm

Hi Felicia. White teeth should be within easy reach for you. I recommend DIY with custom take-home trays, but you can certainly also get by with whitening strips. The laser is a bit of a hoax. It works, but the light source (“laser”) doesn’t do anything magical other than heat up the gel so it works a little faster. In most cases the light isn’t even a laser. It’s called Laser Teeth Whitening because the word “laser” has lots of consumer cache. Calling it In-Office Teeth Whitening just doesn’t have the same level of appeal.

Joe 😀

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5 Felicia @ No Deposit Poker October 12, 2010 at 6:33 am

Wow, thanks Dr. Joe! I never knew that they only used the word Laser just to make the procedure sound enticing! Thank you for the valuable advice. I will start saving up on those DIY with custom take-home trays. Looking forward to your next informative posts! :)

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6 Toronto-Etobicoke Dentist - Joe Bulger October 13, 2010 at 12:29 am

Felicia, just in case you didn’t know, the DIY stands for Do-It-Yourself. As opposed to paying someone to put something on your teeth. Good fitting custom trays can give spectacular results and give you the ability to easily maintain that youthful-smile look.

Joe 😀

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7 Tawny January 16, 2016 at 5:00 am

Great hammer of Thor, that is porfweully helpful!

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9 Teeth Whitener Reviews November 1, 2010 at 8:13 pm

Hi Joe,

Your story is interesting, but I want you to ask, which is more effective, DIY whitening or tooth whitening kits? I have read many people’s thoughts about them and I got confused after reading them, I would like to hear your opinion about it!

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10 Matt October 12, 2011 at 1:49 am

Just wanna say too that I’m so jealous about your shiny white teeth! My home is Asia, so I’m little mindful of these nightly whitening systems which you utilized to whiten yours. While you recall, I was tricked to purchasing one’s teeth whitening pen by _ _ _ + gate..Since then, the only procedure to whitening I believe that really works may be the one which uses laser.

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11 Rodrigo P. Villareal March 18, 2012 at 2:05 am

Hello Dr. Joe. I wonder if you can tell me some website where I can find more information about this method of tooth whitening. I thank you for your attention. goodbye and have a good day.

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12 Keyla January 16, 2016 at 4:46 am

Thanks for shgainr. Always good to find a real expert.

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13 dental check up June 7, 2012 at 9:08 am

It’s a difficult decision. If we all had money we would no doubt pay the extra fee and go to the dentist but teeth whitening with a dentist is ridiculously over priced. I think shopping around and finding a good quality beauty clinic with proper reviews is the best option!

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14 Sam August 17, 2012 at 7:33 pm

Hi Joe, just another thing to add to your article. With the popularity of invisalign, patients are often asking if it can be done at the same time. Would be great to update this article to answer that question.

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15 teeth whitening Swansea October 11, 2012 at 12:03 pm

This was a great post and found it really helpful.

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16 Don October 16, 2012 at 5:11 pm

Interesting story. Did you know about the history of whitening or bleaching?? Please share with me if you know. Thank you very much. 😀

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18 Valerie Garcia May 17, 2013 at 4:36 am

Having a good and white teeth is very important to all of us, of course it affects our appearance especially when we smile. Somehow it can affect our self confidence and esteem. It is necessary to have always a good and healthy oral hygiene.

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19 dayatn June 3, 2013 at 8:21 am

wuow,, nice share guys…
i can get my teeth so whitening..
one more, it’s blog so awesome

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20 James osborne September 22, 2013 at 2:06 pm

Doctor, What can cause teeth pain and what are the food one can be eating to have very strong teeth?

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21 Trisha Park October 17, 2013 at 11:41 am

Having a healthy teeth can boost confident and to be feel good all the time. Thanks for sharing this teeth whitening article.

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22 Bibika@teeth whitening January 2, 2014 at 1:59 pm

Whiter teeth are definitely a confidence booster, i read a research somewhere saying that people with whiter teeth are treated as people with greater value, wealth and ability, just cause they present themselves as if they are taking better care of their health.

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23 Christine Turner February 22, 2014 at 8:10 pm

Dear Dr Bulger,
Thank you for the information but what about patients who have highly sensitive teeth. I used a whitening tray from my dentist and left it on only a short amount of time… the pain afterward was so bad I thought I was going to have to go to the emergency room.
I really would love to know what I can do to make my teeth whiter.

Thank you

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24 Joe Bulger DDS February 24, 2014 at 12:11 pm

Hi Christine,
Many people have the same trouble with trays. The having desensitizers built into the gel solution makes a difference.
Also, try using fluoride gel in the tray for 2 minutes after each whitening session. You’ll seal off the open pores on your root surfaces.

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25 Ladan February 26, 2014 at 2:22 am

Yes, I categorically agree that health and beauty go hand in hand. It is also true that when teeth whitening procedure was first introduced, some people were excited but others were so disgusted. It is because that if there is a new changes in anything in this world – it is not easy to be accepted instantly by everybody and it takes sometime to be widely accepted. I also agree with you, who wouldn’t want a whiter, brighter smile. But you’d be shocked to hear, even now you find people like that! Thank you Dr. Joe for sharing your personal experience on teeth whitening story.

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