The Fascinating History of Teeth Whitening

If you are looking to “remake yourself” this year, our recommendation is to start right here at Dr. Ku’s office! While spending hours in the gym and focusing on improving your nutrition will make you a healthier person in 2018, it’s important to feel good about all aspects of how you look. We want each of our patients to feel more confident in 2018, and to jumpstart that process it is important to focus on the beautification of your smile. 


Teeth whitening is an easy and painless way to get immediate results that has been proven to boost self-confidence. If you are ready to take the first step in your journey, call our office today for a consultation. Or, if you’re just curious about what tooth whitening entails, keep reading for a quick synopsis of its history and the procedure.  

 The history of teeth whitening

Is tooth whitening a new thing? 


While you may assume tooth whitening is a newer phenomenon thanks to increased advertising, the truth is that the concept has been around since the time of the Egyptians. As you can imagine, ancient tooth whitening was primitive and used questionable (by our standards) ingredients. As civilizations progressed, white teeth became a symbol of power and wealth. By the 18th century, physicians used a combination of bleach and oxalic acid to artificially color teeth. While patients did experience whitened teeth, the toxic combination of ingredients also did irreversible damage. 


Modern tooth whitening  


Thankfully we’ve progressed significantly, and tooth whitening is no longer detrimental to the health of your teeth. What we’d consider the foundation for modern day tooth whitening—a thick gel called Opalescence carbamide peroxide—was patented in 1989. This creation spurred the market, and it soon became commonplace in dentist offices across the country. Its ease and popularity also created the at-home whitening market. From whitening strips to toothpastes and mouthwashes it is hard to find a product without a whitening quality. Products meant to be applied at home all have varying efficacies; however, technological advances have made them both easy to use and popular. 


Today, dentists have the option to choose between professional teeth whitening trays or laser teeth whitening. And don’t let the laser scare you. Unlike the movies where lasers normally blow up aliens or obliterate planets, the laser doesn’t actually do the whitening of your teeth. Instead, the laser works in conjunction with a paste that is applied to the teeth that is then heated up by the laser. Whitening trays are a more traditional approach and use peroxide to break down stains. Both treatment options brighten teeth, but come with different price tags and time commitments. It is important to discuss this with your dentist prior to making a decision.  


What does the future hold? 


The future of teeth whitening is bright. (That’s a little dental humor for you!) An increase in patient demand has pushed innovation and technology and made teeth whitening more accessible for everyone. As convenience continues to dominate the marketplace, expect to see more at-home products. If you choose to pursue at-home methods, it is important to remember some of the products are not regulated and therefore are much less potent than what you would receive in our office. If you are looking to drastically change the color of your teeth, it’s recommend to come to us for professional application.

Also published on Medium.

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