A Brief History of Teeth Whitening

Did you know that teeth whitening as we know it today has been around for over a century?

According to a report by the America Dental Association (ADA), way back in 1877, oxalic acid was used as a whitening agent. In 1884, tooth bleaching was carried out using hydrogen peroxide; and in 1918, the use of high-intensity lights was introduced to hasten the bleaching process.

But then, there were very few cosmetic dentists and teeth whitening wasn’t a topic generally talked about.

It was in the 1980s when in-office bleaching techniques became wide spread in the dental profession. Then, the 1989 publication of Haywood-Haymann paper “Nightguard Vital Bleaching” created much buzz on the use of carbamide peroxide as an active ingredient. Not long after that, at-home treatment kits using a bleaching agent on mouth trays became extremely popular. And cosmetic dentistry has never been the same since then.

By the mid-1990s, people could easily get teeth whitening products over-the-counter. Those products were available primarily as toothpastes that whiten teeth as they clean and as special liquid solutions applied to teeth apart from the brushing process. They contained the same active ingredients used in professional in-office whitening procedures, but at lower strengths.

Those commercial whiteners generally improved the appearance of the teeth and to some point, could lighten their color. However, they were not effective in removing deeper stains on the enamel caused by medication, tooth trauma and other factors.

The last decade also saw sales for teeth whitening products rising to $33.7 million while consumer expenditures on oral health care products including toothpastes and mouthwashes reportedly reached about 2.43 billion.

Today, more and more people are interested in teeth whitening. They want to see their teeth grow whiter to improve their smile. These people know very well that whiter teeth can give them added confidence, build self-esteem and help in creating a more favorable impression.

Fortunately, much study has been made on the causes of teeth staining and discoloration making it easier to find the best and most effective tooth whitening treatment for each case.

Many people suffer teeth discolorations due to aging, extended use of medication, or from the natural build-up of organic pigments from certain foods and drinks. Coffee, tea, red wine and tobacco are known to stain teeth. For all these causes, there are a number of procedures available today that can allow almost anyone to whiten their teeth and beam a brighter smile.

Those with sensitive teeth should consider using a more gentle approach to teeth whitening since an in-office procedure may only cause heightened sensitivity. Also, individuals with thin teeth may find that the bleach treatments may only make their teeth translucent gray after the procedure instead of the white that they have dreamed of. Perhaps these people can satisfy their teeth whitening needs with the use of whitening toothpastes only.

Moreover, those wearing veneers or have or white fillings on their front teeth should know that these dental works will not react with bleach and hence, they might have to consider replacement if they want them whiter than before.

More than teeth whitening, people should also be concerned in maintaining good oral health. Other than regular brushing and flossing, oral care should include the use of fluoride to ensure the health of teeth and gums.