About every six months I make my way to the dental care section at the local drugstore. Normally, I get intimidated by the cost of the whitening strips, and after having tried the paint-on crap, I give up and buy hair dye, a chocolate bar or both.But two weeks ago I broke down and ponied up the $30 for the seven-day whitening system. And now my teeth are whiter – and way more sensitive.

I read the directions: twice a day for 30 minutes seems doable, and according to the packaging, it’s safe to do one right after another. They even listed places where I could wear them – like at home, in the shower, while writing e-mails – all great suggestions.

But the seven-day system turned into a two-week project. About two and a half days into it, my front tooth felt like it was on fire, a sensation with which I was not familiar

The directions said if your teeth get too sensitive, you can skip a couple of days or only wear them once a day. I adopted both of these options. Also I bought some Sensodyne toothpaste for sensitive teeth, with whitening power.

I don’t really know why I needed white teeth; they weren’t super-yellow or stained to begin with. I can’t blame the media; I am the media, and I am well aware of airbrushing in magazines and that movie stars have enough money to professionally whiten their teeth or to buy better, whiter ones.

So now I feel like a jerk. I probably didn’t need my teeth to be any whiter. I could have saved that $30 to gamble on my upcoming trip to Las Vegas, but for some reason I had to have white teeth.

Sure the whitening strips worked and, according to co-workers, my teeth are in competition with professionally whitened ones, but I hope this experience will satisfy my need for slight appearance improvement for a while.

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