The Best Teeth Whitening Treatments, From the History Books!

by | Sep 29, 2017 | Teeth Whitening | 0 comments

Teeth whitening is undoubtedly one of the most popular cosmetic dentistry treatments about today, with $11 billion being spent on it in America alone last year! However, teeth whitening treatments weren’t always so accessible; throughout history they had a tendency to be…um…gross, or stupid. In this blog, I am going to give you a brief fly-by historical tour of the best teeth whitening treatments from the history books! Get ready for some weirdness.

3000 BC – Chewing Twigs

In around 3000 BC humans would apparently chew twigs and sticks to clean their teeth! LOL! I mean… it probably worked at least a little bit otherwise they would have stopped chewing sticks, unless it worked? Or maybe they just liked the taste of twigs? Could have been that they were just hungry…


2000 BC – Nutsedge Weed

Fast forward to around 2000 BC and you humans had evolved somewhat. By chewing the voracious purple nutsedge weed, that now plagues gardeners and green thumbs worldwide with its wiley underground root systems, some human beings managed to stave off cavities, abscesses, and major tooth decay. Then you got big into farming and grain and carbohydrates, and, well, let’s just say you didn’t do yourselves any favours.

The Egyptians – Whitening Sticks

The Ancient Egyptians also liked to chew sticks, but they did so with a little more aplomb. When they chewed their teeth whitening sticks they added herbs and poultices to them for a little extra kick! These poultices would often consist of unsavoury things, such as ground up pumice stones (you know, the things you use to get dead skin off of your feet!) and then some not so unsavoury things like wine vinegar. Suffice to say, it probably didn’t work all that well.

The Romans – Goats Milk and….

And now the Romans. What can I say about the Romans? Road makers and aqueduct extraordinaires! They were great weren’t they? They advanced human understanding of the world and society almost as much as the Greeks did. However, the Romans did have some pretty gross habits… They liked to use goat’s milk and stale urine to whiten their teeth, yeah you read that right. I can’t judge them too much though, the urine did contain high amounts of ammonia, which did in fact function as a bleaching agent, but still guys… You couldn’t just chew sticks like everybody else, could you?


The Medieval Times – Powdered Charcoal

The medieval times signalled a slight improvement in teeth whitening treatments, thank god. If you were a dutiful citizen looking to get pearly white gnashers in time for the grand ball, or the village wedding or whatever constituted a social event back in those days, then you had some options. You could simply rub your teeth with a cloth… awesome. Or you could apply an oftentimes noxious concoction consisting of sage ground into salt crystals, or powdered charcoal and rosemary stems, or a paste of pepper, mint or rock salt. Yum…

The 1600s – The Barbers

When the 1600s hit, barbers were for some reason your one-stop-shop for all things hair and health. Weirder still is that these barbers received almost no medical training, like at all. So if you fancied a trim and teeth whitening all in once, you could expect a mouthful of nitric acid and hair, the former of which actually eroded tooth enamel and caused quite serious tooth decay. The mad tooth barber would also file your teeth down, if you fancied it, because why not?

The 1800s – Bleaching Agents

And then the 1800s, what a time to be alive! You lot had finally discovered bleaching agents, and some nasty ones at that. Though the chemicals used in teeth whitening during this period were nasty, they did provide some positive (and of course questionable health-wise) results. Substances such as oxalic acid, calcium hypochlorite and peroxide were the most common. Though, peroxide can be found in some of the best teeth whitening treatments around today, so at least they did something right!


2017 – Pretty Bear’s Boutique

I hope you enjoyed our whistlestop tour of teeth whitening through the ages! If I was off on a few things do please let me know, and don’t judge me, I have very limited resources, being a bear and everything. If you would like to get in touch with me about teeth whitening, I am starting my own Pretty Bear Boutique, where I will be providing chewing sticks, weeds, tasty teeth whitening poultices, cleaning cloths, salt and charcoal potions and peroxide lotions! Get them while stocks last!

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