History of Teeth Whitening

Published:November 7th, 2010

Teeth whitening can be traced back to ancient times. Around 4,000 years ago, the Ancient Egyptians created a whitening paste made of ground purnice stone which was mixed with wine vinegar. They considered white teeth as a mark of beauty and wealth. As long ago as 3000 B.C. people used chew sticks that were small twigs which people used to scrape off particles of food on their teeth. Ancient Romans used urine to whiten their teeth because the ammonia in the urine acted as a bleaching agent.

During the 17th century, barbers were the ones taking care not only of people’s hair but also of their teeth. Barbers filed down the teeth and applied an acid that whitened them. However, even they this procedure did whiten the teeth, it also eroded the tooth enamel. In the early 19th century, the effects of fluoride were discovered and dentists noticed how patients exposed to fluoride in food and water could benefit from cavity free teeth. Nevertheless, they also noticed that too much exposure to fluoride could lead to teeth stains.

Trays with peroxide started to be used in the late 1980s. Dentists had discovered the technique by accident a few decades earlier. Peroxide had been used as an oral antiseptic gel to treat the gums but dentists needed to figure out a way to keep the gel on the gums for longer intervals of time. A side effect of those treatments was the whitening of the teeth.

Soon after this discovery, teeth whitening products became available both for in-office use for the dentists and as home kits sold over the counter.

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