Tooth whitening has been an effect people have been seeking for hundreds of years. The glow of a smile from clean teeth was a symbol of health, wealth status, and family upbringing. Sometimes having a healthy mouth overshadowed tooth whitening, but soon enough it became just as important as having healthy gums and strong teeth.
The Egyptians, Romans, and even during the dawn of man, knew the importance of good oral health. By using chewing sticks", which were small pieces of sticks worn down at one end; this enabled them to scrub the particles off of their teeth after a meal. After all, these periods of the human race needed their teeth in order to survive. The nearest dentist was at least 2000 years away, so dentures were entirely out of the question.
The Middle Ages brought forth the legendary barber and his red and white striped pole, (which was brought forth by hanging blood soaked bandages and clean, white bandages outside to dry, then being wrapped together by the wind, thus forming a pole). The barber, at this time had a dual role of cutting people's hair and pulling their teeth. This was the important time of tooth whitening because it lead to greater social standing and was a label to the outside world that you had enough to eat, in which case, others did not. So, the barber's role became to not only pull teeth, but to whiten them as well. He would file the teeth down and smudge corrosive nitric acid on them and in turn their teeth would have a beautiful luminous glow to them. However, the effect of this procedure led to the destruction of the enamel and then would lead to decayed teeth. Hopefully by this time they would not have to rely on their social graces to get through life, but on their personality like the rest of us.
The nitric acid (although destructive) was quite popular up to the 1800s, until the Italians came across people with stained, but cavity-free teeth. This was due to the high fluoride soil content. Along with these scientists' research and other scientists from around the world, fluoride was labeled to be an important factor in healthy, white teeth. In many parts of the world it was added to the drinking water, thus becoming available to everyone. Even those that were unable to purchase toothpaste or mouthwash. Thanks to this fluoride finding, this gave dentists more time to focus their attention on tooth whitening, which would prove to be more profitable.
To the present day, tooth whitening has become a booming business, with a variety of ways to achieve that radiant smile while satisfying all price ranges. Dentists today, speak more on preventative care in order to have white teeth, such as staying away from coffee, tea, tobacco, red wine, and even some medications. However, for those of us that need our daily cup of coffee and daily glass of red wine, there is a multitude of ways to getting your teeth whitened. You can do it at home by purchasing over-the-counter strips or by going to the dentist and receiving the latest and greatest procedure in tooth whitening (which luckily doesn't contain nitric acid anymore).
Tooth whitening is available to everyone in the world, and you'd be surprised that some people (even to this day) still use chewing sticks". However, a radiant smile still means the same thing now, as it did then: health, wealth, and good family upbringing has been replaced with the importance of appearance.
Copyright Jared Winston, 2006. All Rights Reserved.