LED Teeth Whitening at Harley Street Allure Clinic.

A perfect smile is something that can make or break your entire appearance, how often have you seen a celebrity with crooked, missing, or yellow teeth? Never! One of the first things they fix on the road to stardom is your smile as it plays such a key part in how you look, remember Cheryl Cole-Verslingo-Ferdangdang before she became the ‘nations sweetheart’?

cheryl-cole-teeth-590x350

Not quite so perfect!

That show stopping smile is the result of expensive veneers but then I guess she’s worth it as are many members of the public who have undergone cosmetic dentistry for teeth fit to grace a magazine cover. For a full mouth makeover using veneers can you expect to pay at least £5k in most London private dentists and as the procedure is (rightly) classed as cosmetic there’s no way of getting help on the NHS. Coupled with the fact it’s an uncomfortable, lengthy process of having your teeth shaven in order for them to fit like a false nail, I knew veneers just wouldn’t be an option for me.

Whilst my teeth aren’t that bad, they’re not what I see when I flick through magazines or even read beauty blogs that are written by women that are just like me but here’s the kicker, I’m absolutely TERRIFIED of the dentist. I knew I couldn’t endure the painful process or expense of veneers but I knew I had to do something to give myself a little more confidence so I did a quick bit of research and found booked a routine check-up and session with a hygienist. Luckily, my dentist at Perfect Smile is lovely and after informing her I’m a ‘nervous patient’ she took the time to explain in detail what she was doing and if it was going to cause me any pain and if it did hurt, to raise my hand and she would stop so I could take a breather. After my treatment in which everything was fine I told her how I wasn’t happy with my teeth and after taking some pictures, x-rays and a detailed back history she informed me of what was on offer for me to improve my smile without resorting to veneers. She was actually quite against me having veneers as my teeth are pretty healthy, I’m just unhappy with the 2 gaps I have between my front two teeth (central incisor) and the teeth next to them (lateral incisor) and was always told when my wisdom teeth came through they would push these teeth together thus closing the gap. After inspecting my mouth, my dentist informed me I was one of the lucky ones who probably wouldn’t get wisdom teeth as by the grand ol’ age of 27 they should have at least started to come through by now. I know people who have been through hell and back with the pain of wisdom teeth but I bloody wanted mine!

jennifer lawrenceMy dentist recommended a totally painless composite filling to cover the gaps, and having had one before on an upper canine (through brushing my teeth too much!) I know that they are completely painless and involve no drilling, digging, shaving or pain so felt completely confident in booking myself in. A composite filling can be used to plug teeth that have holes/cracks through decay in the traditional use of a filling but as they are tooth coloured they can also be used in cosmetic treatments, as a sort of filler to make teeth appear healthier or in my case, to close a slight gap. As the composite filling is made to match the exact shade of my teeth my dentist advised me to get them whitened beforehand as this was also a concern of mine, years of drinking red wine and falling into bed too drunk to brush my teeth (don’t act like you haven’t done it) have taken their toll and my teeth aren’t as white as they used to be. I gave up red wine a year or so ago and am a slave to whitening toothpaste but apparently whitening toothpaste doesn’t actually make any difference, in face it can damage your teeth by gradually eroding the enamel.

Laser-Teeth-Whitening

She recommended LED teeth whitening as it’s quick, painless and can take your teeth up to 10 shades lighter in just one session which seemed perfect for me. The process is quite straight forward, you simply wear a gum tray filled with accelerator gel and kick back and relax whilst the LED light is beamed onto your teeth in two 20 minute bursts. After some extensive research on where to have the procedure (my dentist does offer LED whitening but it’s a lot more expensive than the deals I found…) I finally settled on the Harley Street Allure Clinic in Central London as it boasted a heavy discount of 70% and the reviews were glowing! I booked through Wahanda and I trust their reviews heavily, I know they’re written by real people (with the help of a £5 voucher – I’ve contributed a few myself) and being on the well-known Harley Street and so easy to get to it was a no brainer and I swiftly booked my appointment, the 60 minute LED Laser Teeth Whitening for £99. My transaction was smooth and fuss-free as usual and within half an hour my appointment had been confirmed by the clinic by email and I was all set to go.

The clinic is very easy to find, just a short walk from Oxford Circus station, across Cavendish Square and it’s on the corner of Harley Street, you’re given direct instructions in the confirmation email as each building tends to house several clinics and it can get a bit confusing for first time clients. I buzzed the door as instructed and was promptly shown in by a bubbly dental nurse decked out in the usual scrubs, I filled out a short consent form and was then sat in the treatment chair. When I think of Harley Street clinics I think of a fancy, non-clinical homely space with a vase of imported lillies in the corner, a silk chez lounge to perch on and some abstract art adorning the walls but sadly Harley Street Allure is more drab than glam which was a little disappointing but seemed clean and professional so that’s good enough for me! I was briefed roughly on the procedure although if it’s your first time I recommend you do some homework just so you know what’s involved as it’s not advised to have LED whitening if your teeth are damaged, broken or you have any cavities. The procedure can actually make these complaints worse and I can’t imagine the pain if it hits a nerve!

The dental nurse was lovely, I felt very comfortable with her which I think really makes a difference with something like this especially being someone who usually can’t stomach the sight of anything dentist related. After getting the OK from my consent form she then gave me a cotton bud that had been dipped in vitamin e oil to rub on my gums as apparently this can prevent them from becoming sensitive and although the website says you’re invited to brush your teeth beforehand, this wasn’t offered to me. I really wish I had brushed my teeth as around an hour beforehand I had drank a beetroot juice drink, rookie error! I also think it could be worth visiting a hygienist too just to make sure your teeth are in the best possible condition they can be in for maximum effect. The nurse then measured the whiteness of my teeth in their current state so we could compare results at the end and we were good to go. After wiping my gums I then had a bib wrapped around my neck and I was asked to put on red tinted glasses, the nurse filled a mouth guard with accelerator gel and I popped this in my mouth (pulling my lips over the edge, so attractive) and laid back as the LED light was then positioned in front of my mouth. The nurse made sure I was comfortable and then left me to relax, The Hulk was on TV and it actually felt quite relaxing to just lie there and close my eyes, I had read I might feel some discomfort or sensitivity but I felt nothing but the gum guard as I layed there. It did get slightly uncomfortable after the 10 minute mark as your saliva starts to mix with the gel and you can’t swallow, not that you would want to swallow what was now in your mouth (don’t be filthy) but it did take a little adjusting with my tongue to make the guard comfortable again.

As the LED laser started to beep indicating the 25 minutes was almost up my nurse was by my side in an instant to remove the laser and help me take the guard out without covering the whole of London in a slimy saliva filled mess. She gave me a paper towel and I pulled the gum guard out (it was exactly as gross as you imagine it to be) and I rinsed with a cup of water before we repeated the process again. I didn’t feel any sensitivity during the whole procedure, my only complaint is the gum guard can get slightly uncomfortable but the nurse is in the room the whole time so if you do find it to be unbearable I’m pretty sure they would be happy to assist you although taking a break might not give the same effect as completing the procedure as intended.

me smile 2After the second round was done and I was all cleaned up we did another comparison with the tooth chart and I was delighted to discover my teeth were now 4-5 shades lighter and they looked great! I was told how to care for them for the next 24 hours as apparently even after the procedure is finished the lightening is still working it’s magic and you can only eat white food and nothing that can stain such as tea, coffee, red wine, sugary drinks etc. and I was also advised to buy a sensitive toothpaste. It’s been just over a week and my teeth look amazing, I’ve not suffered any sensitivity and I would 100% recommend the treatment to anyone who’s tried every whitening toothpaste under the sun and it looking for something that really works. I struggled a little with the aftercare and ate a Pad Thai instead of something neutral coloured (oops… I was hungry and a plate of plain pasta just wasn’t going to cut it) but I don’t think it made a difference as my teeth still look awesome and I’m sure to rinse my mouth with water if I eat or drink anything that’s heavily coloured or loaded with sugar, just to prevent them from becoming stained again. Now that my teeth are whiter I can book my composite fillings with my dentist and hopefully I’ll finally be happy with my smile!

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Broke in the city – a guide to being moneyless and fabulous.

Being broke is not fun, I’m currently on a strict budget after moving in to my new place (rent, deposit & bleach… Yeah, I get through a lot of bleach) and being the social butterfly and dirty shopoholic I am it’s all got a bit on top until I next get paid. That’s a month away. A WHOLE MONTH AWAY! Pretty much my whole pay packet bar a few stray pennies went straight back out on the above so I’ve limited to myself to just £100 a week until I’m flossing again next pay day. Now £100 sounds quite a bit but when you think of travel costs, lunch and 2-3 nights out a week it’s going to be pretty tight! Luckily, most of my friends are in the same boat and those who aren’t won’t mind saving a few quid whilst I tighten the purse strings and only let us eat in BYOB restaurants and list my entire life on eBay.

I’ve always been a bit tight (that’s what he said) and most of my shoes were purchased in sales and I refuse to pay more than £1 when I go food shopping, ask my mum, when I lived with her and she picked up something that cost more than £1 I made her put it back. Pound shops are my idea of heaven and I would rather slurp a can of 50p ‘perry‘ than pay £7 for a glass of wine in the theatre/cinema. One of my biggest outgoings seems to be bloody food, oh how I wish I was one of those skinny bitches who could forget to eat lunch or saunter home and be so engrossed in who Spencer is nobbing on MIC I blissfully down a cup a soup as dinner and be fully satisfied. Uh huh honey.

being broke

Fortunately, I know a few tricks of the trade when it comes to being on a budget AND having a social life in one of the most expensive cities in the world and I’ve rounded up a few of my favourite websites that help me stay on track.

lastminute.com – I buy ALL my theatre tickets from here! I’m on the mailing list too so I get first pick of special offers and even bigger discounts. I adore the theatre, it’s one of my biggest indulgences and something that gives me incredible enjoyment. I’ve seen a lot of productions this year, inc. Charlie And The Chocolate Factory, Let The Right One In, Fatal Attraction, Coppelia, Romeo & Juliet, War Horse, 1984, Lion King and Wicked. The tickets that I purchased myself were all ‘cheap seat’ offers that I got for as little as £10. I don’t mind the cheap seats, the view isn’t as great but then you’re saving around £50-80 off the price of sitting in the stalls and if you’re feeling cheeky, you can ask the ticket staff if there’s any chance of an upgrade… If you don’t ask, you don’t get. Don’t be shy about bringing in your own drinks/snacks too, everyone does it and no one gives a shit. Check the theatre layout too to see where you’ll be sitting, if the theatre is small cheap seats aren’t bad at all but for bigger productions they might suck a bit. I wish I had bought more expensive seats for Lion King as we were about 200ft up in the air and had an annoying little posh kid talking the whole way through it but c’est la vie! The theatre and meal deals are pretty awesome too, for Lion King we paid £50 each and got a 2 course meal (with a drink!) at Planet Hollywood and tickets to the show.

Wahanda.com – I haven’t paid full price for a hair cut/massage/manicure/pedicure/brazilian blow dry/spa break in a good few years now and I’ve found some real gems through Wahanda. I suffer from an ongoing back problem and stumbled upon Will at Hairdressing Station a few weeks ago and for just £18 a session (even less now as I purchased 4 in bulk!) he really gets to work on the knots in my back and leaves me walking out of there a new woman. As broke as I am, I will never look broke and I can’t let my beauty regime slide. I always have my nails polished to perfection, my hair is always healthy and shiny and I feel like beauty treatments are an inexpensive way to make you feel amazing when everything else is going to shit. My recent spa break was another Wahanda find and I’ve also found their customer service (esp. the Twitter team) to be really efficient and quick to respond to any problems. They take a lot of care in choosing who they represent and out of all the treatments I’ve booked through them I’ve always had excellent service and quality.

Groupon.co.uk – If I have dinner plans with a friend I’ll always have a quick scan on Groupon to see if there’s any offers in the area we’re looking to head out to and I’m always finding new and exciting offers from full 3 course meals, to cocktails and cooking classes. I’ve been to some amazing restaurants with a Groupon voucher I otherwise wouldn’t have been able to afford to visit and I’ve booked a few beauty treatments with them too. It’s worth signing up for their mailing list as some of the offers have a limit and it’s good to get in there first! I’ve never felt like a voucher customer with them when I’ve been to a restaurant and I’m really keen to check out the gym pass deals and getaways they’re offering.

Wowcher.co.uk – Similar to Groupon in terms of the variety of deals but Wowcher work on more of a first come first serve basis and when the deal is gone, it’s gone. The business works on a basis that the discount offered can only happen if enough people sign up and the length of time you have to sign up to a deal can vary between days or just a few hours. Every day they feature things you would never think of doing which makes it really exciting if you have a free weekend coming up, from zorbing and indoor sky diving to go kart racing and wine tasting. I’ve booked a few activities through Wowcher including a 6 cocktails for £10 offer at Green Carnation which was AMAZING value for money seeing as most of the cocktails are £9 each! Again they offer beauty treatment, spa breaks, hotels etc. but their main pull is the fun activities.

Timeout.com – I absolutely love living in London and every time I find myself in the buzzing city centre there’s always something going on, most of the time for free. Timeout is really good for being on top of all the events, galleries, exhibitions and festivals that are going on that cost nowt. You’ll be surprised at just how many free gigs there are too, mostly from shitty hipster bands you’ve never heard of but still… A free gig is a free gig! The food festivals (mainly in Summer) are well worth checking out if you’re really cheap as a lot of the stalls offer free samples of the vegan horse crap they’re peddling so you can fill up for free saving yourself even more pennies for Red Stripe. One of my favourite ways to spend a lazy day in London is by visiting a gallery or museum (these are mostly free to enter but certain exhibitions charge a small entry fee) and having lunch along the river, which you can either pack yourself OR see what’s around the area and grab a Groupon/Wowcher code for somewhere.

Agirlcalledjack.com – Jack Monroe is bad ass, she’s a thrifty lesbian who can cook and knows how to make her pennies stretch. I find her blog so inspiring, not just for cooking but her whole attitude is awesome, even though she’s now somewhat of a celebrity she’s still pretty tight and understand what it’s really like to live in poverty as she was a struggling single parent who could barely afford to feed herself and heat her home. The recipes are brilliant and really good for those who can’t afford fancy ingredients, Jack truly is a breath of fresh air in the world of food bloggers and ‘celebrity’ chefs. I also adore the fact she’s an experimental cook, much like myself and throws together whatever she has in the house to make something awesome, cheap and flavourful.

Also, supermarket own brand stuff is just as good as the more expensive counterparts and you can steal staples like olive oil etc. off your housemates (they’ll never know) but if you have a concious Jack has made this awesome video on cheap substitutes for fancy ingredients.

I love watching this kind of crap too, a bit extreme but hilarious!