History of Tooth Whitening | Delmarva Dental Services

History of Tooth Whitening

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Tooth whitening has been performed for thousands of years.  Ancient Egyptians used pumice and wine vinegar to whiten their teeth which unfortunately slowly dissolved the teeth. Ancient Romans used urine and goat milk in an attempt to make and keep their teeth whiter Ancient       In the 12th century some physicians recommended that patients scrub their teeth with a yellow flower called elecampane, or a mixture of sage and salt.  In the 17th century barbers would file down a patient’s teeth with a type of metal file, then dab them with highly-corrosive nitric acid.   It whitened the teeth, but it also destroyed the enamel, leading to tooth decay.Medievil dentistry     In 1877, Dr. Chapple published a report on bleaching teeth with oxalic acid. In 1918 Dr Abbott used heat and a light source with hydrogen peroxide to whiten teeth. From that time until the 1960’s most teeth whitening was done using hydrogen peroxide with a heated instrument or with a light in the dental office setting.Heat Lamp In the 1968 Dr. Bill Klusmier, an orthodontist in Fort Smith, Arkansas accidentally discovered tray tooth whitening.   He was looking for a way to heal the gums that often become irritated during braces.  He told a patient to place the antiseptic Gly-Oxide (GlaxoSmithKline) containing carbamide peroxide in an orthodontic positioner overnight to help his gums heal.  When the patient returned, not only were his gums better but his teeth were whiter.  So Dr. Klusmier started using Gly-Oxide in trays to lighten his patients’ teeth.  He switched to the thicker Proxigel (Reed and Carnrick Pharmaceutical) in 1972.  Dr Klusmier began to present his findings at dental meetings.  Some dentists followed suit but it did not catch on.Dr. Klusmier showed the technique to Dr. Jerry Wagner, a pediatric dentist also from Fort Smith who  used Proxigel in custom fitted, vacuum -formed trays specifically for whitening teeth. Essex & Gly Dr Van Haywood, a faculty member at the University of North Carolina School of Dentistry heard about the Klusmier technique at a dental study club in 1988 from Dr David Freshwater of Morehead City, North Carolina who in 1985 heard about the technique from Dr Tom Austin from Jonesville, North Carolina who heard about the technique from Dr Jerry Wagner in 1984.  Dr Van Haywood began research at the dental school on the product and he and Dr Heymann published an article in 1989 and another in 1990.  In 1989 Dr Dan Fischer, who created Opalescence carbamide peroxide (Ultradent Products), received a patent for a thick and sticky whitening gel formulation that is still the basis for most tray whitening  gels in use today.  A half a dozen other companies sprang up that same year. Tray whitening by dental offices took off, but it was still controversial among dentists.   We began tray whitening here at Delmarva Dental Services in 1989. Opal

Laser whitening started about 1996. Web Laser Bl

Whitening strips were invented by Paul Sagel, a research fellow at Procter & Gamble.  Today Crest Whitestrips have a 67% market share and generate 400 million dollars.Crest

Today we have many different ways to whiten our teeth.  Most all use hydrogen peroxide or carbamide peroxide.  Of all the types the top three are Custom Tray Whitening, Whitening Strips and Dental Office Whitening.

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