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The History of Teeth Whitening

July 20, 2021

Filed under: Uncategorized — Dr. Share @ 6:14 pm
closeup of smile before and after teeth whitening

The desire for beautiful, radiant pearly whites has become widespread in recent years. There is no doubt that it can significantly improve one’s self-esteem and quality of life. Luckily, a brighter smile is easily attainable thanks to teeth whitening treatment. But did you know that this phenomenon can be traced back thousands of years? Read along as we discuss the history of teeth whitening and how it has evolved into the treatment we know today.

Origins of Teeth Whitening

Long ago, ancient Egyptians created a paste using ground pumice stone, wine vinegar, and ground oxen hooves to whiten their teeth. During this time period, appearance was of utmost importance, and they considered a bright smile to be a symbol of virility, wealth, and sensuous appeal.

Historians discovered that ancient Romans were also beauty-conscious and highly concerned about the health and appearance of their teeth. According to old documents, they used urine to keep their smile bright! It may sound shocking, but their reasoning is because urine contains ammonia, a natural bleaching agent.

How Teeth Whitening Has Evolved Over Time

As time went on, people explored several different ideas to achieve better and faster teeth whitening. Here’s how the practice evolved throughout the centuries:

  • 12th Century – During this time, physicians often suggested that people whiten their teeth with many different pastes and powders, including sage and salt rub.
  • 17th Century – Did you know people would visit their barber for dental needs? The barber would file teeth down to make them abrasive, then apply a powerful nitric acid to whiten them. Although effective, this technique would severely damage enamel.
  • 19th Century – At the beginning of this century, hydrogen peroxide and fluoride became increasingly popular.
  • 20th Century – Teeth whitening evolved a lot during this time. In 1918, dentists found that using a heating lamp and hydrogen peroxide would accelerate the whitening process. Then in the 1960s, they discovered that allowing teeth to soak in peroxide overnight led to even brighter results.

Modern Teeth Whitening Treatment

In the late 1980s, opalescence carbamide peroxide (a type of whitening gel) was patented. To this day, it is still a widely used teeth whitening technique. Research and development have led to numerous products being launched that facilitate the teeth whitening process. From toothpaste to strips to mouthwash, there are now various ways people can whiten their teeth. However, you should always consult with your dentist before purchasing an over-the-counter bleaching product.

Teeth whitening has come a long way since its early days. Now, you have more options than ever to brighten your smile! Contact your dentist and ask about their options – a white grin is only a call away!

About the Author

Dr. Jack Share earned his Doctor of Dental Surgery at the State University of New York at Buffalo School of Dental Medicine. With over 40 years of experience, he is one of the most well-respected and reputable dentists in the greater Boston area. If you have a discolored smile, Dr. Share can make your pearly whites brighter with teeth whitening treatment. Are you interested? Visit our website or call (617) 742-1350 to schedule a consultation.

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