July 15, 2021
Teeth whitening is a popular option when it comes to cosmetic dentistry. Everyone wants to have a beautiful, white smile. But it has been around for a lot longer than you probably thought. Even before the first whitening products were available to buy, people were using all sorts of remedies and methods to brighten their teeth. Read on to learn more about the history of teeth whitening and how it become what it is today!
Ancient Egyptian Teeth Whitening
For people who were higher status in ancient Egypt, white teeth were of great importance. Whitening teeth was something that fascinated the Pharaohs, and they had their own method of achieving a beautiful smile. Often times, they would use a special toothpaste that was comprised of wine-vinegar, pumice stone, and ground oxen hooves. The way people kept their teeth clean back in the day was with a “chew stick.” This was a twig with a frayed end that people would rub against their teeth. Basically an ancient toothbrush.
Ancient Roman Teeth Whitening
The ancient Romans would also use chew sticks to brush their teeth and remove plaque. According to old sources, they would use urine to clean their teeth because it contains ammonia and keeps them white. The health and appearance of their smiles were of upmost importance.
European Teeth Whitening
There was a group of Nomadic people who used to clean teeth by using acid and filing them down. Even though this did help to restore them back to white, their enamel would end up damaged and gone. It is no wonder that this method did not catch on.
Modern Teeth Whitening
In the late 1800s, dentists started using chlorine as a way of restoring teeth back to a whiter color. This was a popular method used all across Europe until the early 1900s. At this point, the use of hydrogen peroxide became more popular. In the year 1960, a dentist known as William Klusimer invented peroxide-based whitening agents, and they were popular until about 1970. However, when peroxide-based formulas were made stronger, this was too harsh on the gum tissue.
All sorts of other techniques were experimented with, including the use of heating lamps. However, heat from these lamps was far too intense and would overheat the dental pulps, the inner layer of the tooth, sometimes causing the need for endodontic therapy. In 1989, carbamide peroxide was introduced as a whitening agent. This treatment was effective and had less negative side effects.
Teeth whitening has come a long way, but now it can be done in the comfort of your own home with take-home whitening kits from your dentist. Let’s leave these old whitening “hacks” in the past!
About the Author
Dr. John T. Michaels earned his dental doctorate from the Ohio State University Dental School and is committed to continuing education to keep his knowledge and skills sharp. Currently, he is a proud member of the Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry, Norfolk County Dental Society, Massachusetts Dental Society, and American Dental Society. For more information on teeth whitening or to schedule an appointment at his office in Norwood, visit his website or call (781) 769-6140.
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