Rochester Dentist Offers a Brief History of Teeth Whitening

Everybody wants a white smile. In fact, wishing for a bright, white smile is nothing new. People throughout the centuries have attempted to whiten their teeth with various methods. Some early teeth whitening techniques were dangerous to oral and dental health while others were advanced for their time.

Teeth Whitening Throughout History

  • Ancient Babylonians brushed their teeth with a “chew stick” that had one frayed end. As far back as 3,500 B.C., people discovered that they could whiten their smiles by cleaning their teeth.
  • Shortly after use of the “chew stick” spread to other cultures, Egyptians realized that using an abrasive paste lifted surface stains off their teeth. This ancient version of toothpaste was made from ground pumice and wine vinegar.
  • In Ancient Rome, people used ammonia to clean teeth and address surface stains.
  • In the 18th century, the nobility in Western Europe wanted white teeth along with white hair and white skin. To accomplish their desires for bright smiles, they applied lime chloride to their teeth.
  • From the 18th century to the beginning of the 20th century, barbers often performed dental work such as tooth extractions. To whiten teeth, barbers would file away tooth enamel and slather nitric acid across teeth. Even though this method whitened teeth, the absence of tooth enamel caused severe decay.
  • Hydrogen peroxide has been used to whiten teeth for over a century. Some whitening products still contain this ingredient.

Teeth Whitening in Rochester

Fortunately, Rochester residents can safely and effective achieve a white smile with help from Calcagno Cosmetic & Family Dentistry. After researching dozens of whitening products, Dr. Gilly Calcagno has handpicked the best teeth whitening systems for her patients. Patients may choose between Zoom! in-office whitening, which can whiten teeth up to ten shades in one hour or take-home whitening systems. With take-home whitening systems, patients can effectively whiten their smiles in the comfort of their homes.

To schedule an appointment with Dr. Calcagno, contact our Rochester dentist office at (507) 281-3659. We serve patients from Red Wing, Hastings, Farmington, St. Charles, and the surrounding communities near Rochester.