A Brief History of teeth whitening

Teeth Whitening treatment at Wainui Dental in Wainuiomata

Teeth whitening is new, right? Wrong. Even though modern teeth whitening using gels, trays and laser has only been around since the 1980s but in fact, for thousands of years people have been looking for ways to whiten their teeth.

White teeth as a sign of wealth and beauty

Ancient Egyptians believed that white teeth was a sign of wealth and beauty and so they searched for various methods to get their teeth as white as possible. One of the most effective teeth whitening treatments for this culture was to mix crushed pumice stone with wine vinegar and rubbed it on their teeth. While it did prove somewhat harsh it did whiten their teeth extremely effectively.

The ancient Romans went even further with their teeth whitening using a mixture of goat milk and stale urine to bleach their teeth. Since stale urine was in effect a kind of ammonia and had to prove its whitening ability in bleaching out animal hides making them white, the Roman’s felt that it would have the same ability to give them the sparkling white teeth they found attractive.

While this method of teeth whitening seems disgusting to modern man ancient Roman’s found it to be a product that worked and worked well for them.

Accidental teeth whitening discovery

About 40 years ago dentists began using a form of hydrogen peroxide as a gum treatment and found an interesting side-effect. This same substance also removed stains from their patients teeth and made them white and bright.

Today we find peroxide as an ingredient in many innovative teeth products such as toothpastes and tooth gels which helps people to whiten their teeth or maintain the colour.

Trial & Error

Over the years, many different ideas were explored to achieve better and faster teeth whitening. Obviously the ultimate goal is to whiten teeth quickly while also maintaining the teeth stay whiter longer after treatment.

Stronger peroxide-based formulas proved to be too harsh on the gingiva. In the 1970s, some tried using heating lamps. The radiant heat energy produced by heating lamps proved to be so intense that it caused overheating of dental pulps.

Then, for a while people tried the influx of photon energy techniques using bleaching lights and lasers. This was quite popular at some point, but the science never backed up these additional techniques. The breakdown of hydrogen peroxide is an exothermic reaction. Adding any type of energy, including photon energy, actually slows down the chemical reaction. A lot of these methods were trial and error. Dentists found the results with lights and lasers unpredictable and of very short duration. Either the whitening didn’t work at all or the whitening quickly relapsed after treatment.

Teeth whitening based on science

Today the team at Wainui Dental uses teeth whitening methods that are based on the understanding of the chemistry, physics, physiology, and microanatomy of whitening procedures. As a result we use specific products and formulas that are reliable and predict the outcome to a high degree. Contact Wainui Dental for teeth whitening treatments options which genuinely whiten teeth and keep them white permanently.

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