When we think about the perfect smile, many of us associate it with bright white teeth. Not only does it improve our smile, but it brightens our overall demeanor. After all, who doesn’t like to show a gorgeous smile? With improved self-esteem comes an improvement on daily life. And so, we purchase products over the counter and schedule whitening treatments through our dental professionals. But where did this need to whiten our teeth come from?
Whitening strips and bleach trays may be an invention of the past 30 years, but techniques for teeth whitening go back centuries. In the 1100s, physicians would recommend scrubbing teeth with elecampane (a yellow flower) or a sage and salt mixture to make “them firm, white and healthy” or “clean, white, and sweet,” Trevor Anderson, an osteoarchaeologist, notes in a 2004 paper on medieval dentistry.
Later on, some would use acid washes in an attempt to strip away stains, but unfortunately, these rinses mostly stripped away all the enamel on the teeth, leaving them crumbling, says Dr. Scott Swank, curator of the National Museum of Dentistry in Baltimore.
It wasn’t until the advent of Hollywood and Technicolor movies that there was widespread interest in whitening teeth, usually through whitening toothpastes, he says. Enter the 1980s and in-office bleaching treatments, and it only took off from there, Swank says.
Unfortunately, there is such a thing as too much of a good thing. Overbleaching your teeth causes your teeth’s enamel to wear down. Not only will that cause your teeth to become sensitive, weak and prone to decay, but it also defeats the purpose as teeth’s natural underbody is yellow and becomes exposed by overbleaching. Teeth whitening is a safe procedure but must be used in moderation.
If you’re interested in learning more about teeth whitening, contact Dr. Lieberman at 727-785-8017 to schedule a consultation today. Or visit www.dentist-lieberman.com for additional information.
Dr. Larry Lieberman proudly accepts patients from Palm Harbor and all surrounding areas.