The history of teeth whitening can be traced back time to the early civilisation of man. Wanting our teeth to be clean and bright is nothing new to the human race. However, the methods differ from age to age. Today’s teeth whitening patients are able to achieve visible results simply by undergoing one-hour treatments at the dentists. Although people didn’t always have it so easy, it certainly wasn’t for the lack of trying.
Throughout 5,000 years of recorded history, humans have been known to use a variety of teeth whitening and cleaning systems. Let’s take a look at a few examples.
In 3000 BC, ancient people would chew on frayed branches that help to scrape any unwanted particles from their teeth and maintain health and strength. Rubbing the end of the frayed stick over the teeth repeatedly not only removes food particles and dental plaque but also keeps the teeth clean. In fact, some less developed cultures and civilizations around today still employ this ancient dental method.
Teeth cleaning has evolved over time to more sophisticated methods, with bristle toothbrushes first documented in 16th century China. Using hog’s hair for the bristle, ancient Chinese found the method allowed them to clean between the gaps in the teeth as well as their surface.
The World’s First Toothbrush
DuPont was the first Westerner to develop the toothbrush in 1938. He campaigned hard against the hog’s hair type of toothbrush, warning about the dangers of infection and animal germs from its use. DuPont’s nylon-bristle toothbrush faired poorly at the initial stage as the extremely hard nylon had the effect of damaging the teeth and the dentists of his day were reluctant to recommend them. It was only after the inventor created the first soft vinyl toothbrushes about 10 years later did his product start to catch on.
The first account of teeth whitening was recorded about 4000 years ago. The ancient Egyptians formulated a whitening paste consisting of wine vinegar and ground up pumice stone. If this sounds a tad gross, consider then the whitening method of ancient Romans: Urine.
Recognising the active whitening ingredient of ammonia in the urine, the early Romans adopted the primitive method that actually possesses sound scientific principles that are still being used today – not the urine, but the ammonia ingredient.
Teeth whitening was quite the rage in the 17th Century. In those days, barbers would perform the dental duties such as pulling teeth as well as teeth whitening. Besides giving haircuts, the barber would file the customer’s teeth before rubbing “whitening” acid on the teeth. Although the method does work to remove the dental stains, it led to erosion of the tooth enamel and tooth decay. Nevertheless, the practice persisted until the 18th Century.
Thankfully, all these primitive methods have given way to modern techniques that are clinically safe and effective with fast results. Of course, the safest and most reliable methods still rely on the skills and experience of a trained cosmetic dentist.
To discover how teeth whitening can help to enhance the appearance of your smile, speak to our client management team at Quality Dental Sydney on (02) 9922 1159.