The History of Tooth Whitening

Posted on: August 9, 2017

You may think that teeth whitening is a relatively new practice. However, as long as there have been humans, there have been people who want whiter teeth. The first signs of tooth whitening that scientists have found date back 5,000 years. Back then the methods weren’t nearly as sophisticated. Most early humans would chew on sticks to remove plaque and debris from their mouths. Since the advent of modern dental care, tooth whitening processes have come a long way. Today we will examine some of the barbaric and unpleasant methods of the past. Additionally, we will discuss some of the technological advancements in tooth whitening during recent years.

Tooth Whitening: The Early Days

Ancient Egyptians took a large step forward from chewing on sticks. That made a mixture of pumice stone and wine vinegar. The abrasive and acidic qualities of the mixture would whiten their teeth. White teeth are a sign of nobility and wealth in many cultures, and Ancient Eygpt was no different. The wealthiest citizens would apply the mixture of pumice and wine vinegar to their teeth regularly to keep their sparkly white smiles.Ancient Romans had a slightly different and much more disgusting whitening method. The people of ancient Rome would use urine, yes you read that correctly, for tooth whitening. Urine contains ammonia which acts as a bleaching agent. While it may be effective, no one today would ever dare try such a harsh and outdated tooth whitening technique.In the 17th-century, tooth whitening took a rather barbaric turn. People would rely on their barbers to not only take care of their hair but also their teeth. Your barber would use a file on your teeth and then apply acid to whiten them. However, this process was more harmful than beneficial. Removing the enamel from the outside of your teeth is a great way to make your teeth white at first. However, removing too much enamel exposes the pulp of the tooth which is yellow. So, not only do your teeth look yellow, you are more susceptible to tooth pain and sensitivity. Luckily for us, our barbers are no longer responsible for our dental care.

Modern Day Advancements

The 19th-century brought many advancements for the dental profession. The first was the discovery that fluoride reduces the risk of cavities and promotes overall dental health. However, too much fluoride also turns teeth yellow. Additionally in the 19th-century dentists were trying to find new ways to treat gum disease and infection. One of the ways that dentists found to work well was hydrogen peroxide. Originally, hydrogen peroxide was meant to work as an antibacterial agent. However, dentists saw a remarkable improvement in the color of their patient’s teeth. Today, many tooth whitening treatments include peroxide in the ingredient list.In the 1960’s a dentist discovered that after prescribing an overnight soak in carbamide peroxide using an orthodontic positioner for gum irritation, the teeth were significantly whiter.However, the idea wouldn’t take off until the 1980’s. This gave birth to the trays with whitening agents that you see so prevalently today.

The Latest Advancements in Whitening Technology

Today there are many different procedures and products to choose from. Many of them still use Opalescence carbamide peroxide but they have found ways to make this gel more effective. One way to increase the whitening properties of this compound is by adding light. Dentists have proven that LED light can significantly increase the whitening properties of peroxide gels.There are many at home whitening products as well. There are different kinds of whitening toothpaste, strips, trays, and gels that may be effective. However, the most effective treatments are available from your dentist. Discussing your situation with your dentist is a great place to start. Your dentist will be able to help you determine what the best course of action is for improving your smile.

We Can Help

At the dental practice of Nicole M. Berger, D.D.S we offer a full range of whitening treatments. From in office treatments to take home tooth whitening products, we offer it all. We can make a custom tray that will keep the whitening gel in place to provide you with the best results.Additionally, we offer Kor Teeth Whitening. Kor Teeth Whitening is different from other products because the trays that hold the gel are specifically designed to keep saliva from coming in contact with the gel. Saliva breaks down peroxide gels and reduces the benefits of other whitening products. With Kor Teeth Whitening you don’t have to worry about reducing your results. Start on your way to the healthy and white smile that you have always wanted today. Contact us and schedule a consultation and let us help brighten your smile and your day.