There’s nothing like a beautiful, bright, gleaming smile to light up a room and make a great first impression. For many decades, people have been experimenting to find a way to reverse the negative staining effects of various foods, drinks, and other products on teeth, with varying levels of success. Most of those efforts were only partially effective, some were downright harmful, and a few have emerged as safe, affordable, and successful. Today, we’d like to give you a little history lesson on the fascinating history of teeth whitening from your Raleigh, NC dentist.
Destructive Teeth Whitening
Raleigh, NC dentistry patients can be thankful that they do not live during the experimental days of teeth whitening! You may have heard before that ancient Romans brushed their teeth with urine; one of the reasons for this distasteful practice was that the naturally occurring ammonia bleached the teeth and removed stains. As unpleasant as that sounds, people living in the 1600s who wanted to restore their yellowed teeth to their original clean white appearance had it even worse. Instead of using chemicals, professional barbers (dentistry did not yet exist as a separate profession) simply used metal files to scrape away the stained surface of their patients’ teeth.
As you can imagine, this practice quickly led to far more serious dental problems! The natural enamel covering the tooth does not grow back like skin and hair do; once it is removed, the damage is permanent. In return for their teeth whitening procedures, patients developed painful decay in their weakened teeth…which, in turn, led to painful extraction.
Although these practices are antiquated and would never be practiced by dentists or their patients today, the same basic dangers can be seen in some modern teeth whitening products:
Teeth Whitening at Home
People interested in teeth whitening in Raleigh, NC are presented with a variety of different at-home products, all of which promise fantastic results and use models with beautiful, healthy smiles to promote sales. Some of these techniques are more effective than others, but they all carry disadvantages as well:
Bleaching trays apply a solution of hydrogen peroxide or some other chemical to the teeth, bleaching them in much the same way that ammonia did for the ancient Romans. A serious problem with this method is that the chemicals are very harmful to the gums, and commercially produced bleaching trays are not custom-fitted to each patient’s unique dental structure. Burns to the gums and surrounding tissue, besides being very painful, weaken them and can lead to tooth loss.
Teeth whitening strips are a variation on bleaching trays, using roughly the same chemicals. Again, these chemicals are harmful to the gums, and the safest way to use them on your teeth is to have a professional dentist in Raleigh, NC conduct the teeth whitening process in his office.
Toothpaste products don’t generally use hydrogen peroxide solutions like bleaching trays do; instead, they use a mixture of abrasives that scratch superficial stains off the teeth. If that sounds familiar, it’s because it is the same concept as using a metal file like barbers in the 1600s did—only far less aggressive! Whitening toothpastes are most effective in removing minor, temporary stains; permanent discoloration caused by years of poor hygiene or genetic factors require a more detailed approach.
Teeth Whitening at Your Raleigh, NC Dentist’s Office
In modern times, patients who desire a clean, white, sparkling smile have an option that is safe, convenient, affordable, thorough, and permanent—a combination that does not describe any of the previously discussed teeth whitening methods. Your Raleigh, NC dentist uses specialized equipment and chemical products to safely remove all types of stains from your teeth, avoiding damage to the gums and using his expertise to achieve a uniform, brilliant look that no do-it-yourself whitening kit can compete with.
Dr. Eric Ladimer has years of experience in teeth whitening and other forms of cosmetic dentistry, making New Hope Dental your best source for dental services in the Raleigh, NC area. Our office staff is ready to work with you, schedule appointments that fit your busy lifestyle, and find a payment plan that fits your budget so that you can enjoy your stunning new smile right away. Email us today!