Even though teeth bleaching, whitening solvents and other modern manners in which to whiten teeth haven't been around all that long, procedures for whitening teeth have. Teeth whiteners were used as far back as 2000 B.C. made from natural ingredients or even human waste products. The red and white barber poles used to signify a place folks could get their teeth doused with a caustic acid which served to whiten their pearly whites.
Teeth whitening agents were used as far back as ancient Egypt and Rome. The former came up with a mixture of pulverized pumice and wine vinegar, which they would apply with a chew stick to their pearly whites. The latter had a throng of doctors who were convinced teeth could be whitened with human urine. Years later, ammonia, which is found in all urine, is still recognized as an agent that cleans the enamel on teeth.
By the time the 1800s hit, it was the barbers who did the teeth whitening. These hair clipping mavens also doubled as dental surgeons. Barbers would whiten teeth by first filing them down with a metal apparatus and then dousing the teeth with nitric acid. While the acid did, in fact, make the teeth shiny white, it would also eventually wear down the enamel and lead to pulpy, decayed choppers.
Several different methods of teeth whitening are on today's market. Dentists can provide a one-hour whitening treatment or they can bleach the teeth. Home remedies range from daily doses of paste that should be applied to teeth to teeth whitening strips which are pressed on then pulled off the enamel for a pearly glow. Special whitening toothpastes and dental rinses are also widely available, a far cry from the Roman's urine treatment.
Hollywood can be hugely to blame for the recent increase in teeth whitening. Teeth whitening became mainstream, and even entered popular culture when featured on the popular "Seinfeld" TV show in the 1990s. Dentists said teeth whitening is the aspect of their practice that is growing the fastest, according to a 2002 survey taken by the American Dental Association and Colgate. Dentists said teeth whitening procedures grew by 25 percent. Likewise, the popularity of teeth whitening and bleaching has shot up more than 300 percent in recent years, according to the American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry.
Teeth whitening would be less popular, perhaps, if folks did not do things likely to stain their teeth. Smoking or chewing tobacco are huge teeth staining agents, as are tea, coffee and red wine. Even too much of a good thing, specifically fluoride, can lead to teeth that have brown or yellow splotches on them. Children end up swallowing fluoride toothpaste rather than rinsing and spitting which can lead to stained teeth later in life. Certain rural areas, like northern New Mexico, also have a high fluoride content in the water which also leads to a stained set of choppers