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How Has Teeth Whitening Evolved Over the Years?

January 12, 2024

Filed under: Uncategorized — kleinfamilydentalteam @ 8:56 pm
Lady shows off smile

People have been trying to whiten their smiles since they figured out how to recognize their own reflections. While modern teeth whitening methods are safe and effective, the ways ancient people used to bleach their smiles ranged from pretty gross to downright frightening. Here’s a brief history of how teeth whitening has evolved over thousands of years so you can appreciate how easy, safe, and effective modern whitening methods are.

Teeth Whitening in the Ancient World

Shiny white teeth have been considered signs of health, beauty, and wealth in many cultures throughout the millennia. Around four thousand years ago, the ancient Egyptians developed a whitening paste made from wine vinegar and ground pumice stone. This concoction was abrasive so it could work stains and discoloration out from the enamel layer, but it could also wear down the enamel layer in the process.

For their part, the ancient Romans discovered a teeth whitening method that was cheap, all-natural, and easily accessible to people of all social classes. Ammonia is an effective bleaching agent and a common chemical in household cleaning products, and it is a natural byproduct of human metabolism. Accordingly, the Romans would often whiten their teeth by rinsing their mouths with their own urine.

Bleaching Your Smile in the Medieval Period

In Medieval Europe, surgery and dentistry were considered to be the job of the local barber. To whiten teeth, the barber would use a file to rough up a patient’s teeth and then apply an acid to their surface. While this treatment was effective at whitening the patient’s teeth, it also eroded the enamel and caused tooth decay. This was considered a small price to pay for the prestige of shiny white teeth.

How Does Modern Teeth Whitening Work?

Dentists started using modern teeth whitening methods in the late 1980s. While dentists had been using peroxide as an oral antiseptic gel for years, it eventually became clear that this gel could whiten teeth as well as treat the gums. Dentists began refining the technique, and teeth whitening products were soon being mass-marketed across America.

Today, your dentist can provide you with teeth whitening treatments in the form of an in-office procedure or a take-home kit. The in-office procedure can be completed in a few hours and involves the dentist applying several layers of whitening gel to your teeth before treating them with a special light. Take-home kits come with customized dental trays and professional-grade whitening gel. All the patient must do is fill the trays with the gel and wear them over their teeth for an hour every day for two weeks.

Professional in-office procedures or take-home kits from your dentist deliver results far superior to any store-bought whitening solution, leaving a patient’s teeth up to ten shades whiter. Consulting with your dentist can determine if teeth whitening can be a suitable treatment for you.

About the Practice

Klein Family Dentistry delivers the most excellent dental care available to the community of Harrisburg, PA. Led by Drs. Gary M. Klein and Rachael Miller, the staff ensures each patient enjoys the finest service in a friendly and comfortable environment. Areas of expertise include general, restorative, emergency, and cosmetic dentistry such as teeth whitening treatments. For more information on what teeth whitening may be able to do for you, contact the office online or dial (717) 652-6644.

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