A bright, white smile is a coveted attribute. Interestingly, the pursuit of a white smile is not a new endeavor. In fact, people have tried to whiten their smiles in various ways for thousands of years. You might be surprised by early civilizations’ methods for whitening teeth. Some techniques are advanced while others were very dangerous to oral health.
Teeth Whitening Historical Facts
- Around 3000 B.C. the chew stick was widely used. Made from a large twig with one frayed end. The frayed end of the chew stick was used to remove food and stains.
- The first toothpaste was made by ancient Egyptians. This toothpaste was highly abrasive as it was made of ground pumice and wine vinegar. The mixture of vinegar and pumice was effective at cleaning teeth and removing surface stains—although this abrasive paste probably damaged tooth enamel.
- A few hundred years later, the Ancient Romans discovered that ammonia lifted stains from teeth.
- In Western Europe, the wealthy used lime chloride to whiten their teeth during the 1700’s and 1800’s.
- In North America and Europe, barbers performed dental procedures during the 18th century. Aside from cutting hair and extracting teeth, many barbers also whitened smiles by filing away enamel and applying nitric acid to the teeth. Although this technique produced a white smile, nitric acid caused severe tooth decay.
- Hydrogen peroxide has been used as a bleaching agent for over 100 years. Some whitening systems still contain this ingredient.
Fortunately, our Chicago area patients can whiten their smiles without damaging their oral health. Dr. James Fondriest only prescribes effective whitening systems that do not harm teeth. For a beautiful, white smile, contact our Chicago dentist office at (847) 234-0517 to schedule an appointment. We serve patients from all of the surrounding Chicago communities.