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The history of teeth whitening
Updated: 6/8/2011 5:00:01 PM

Teeth whitening has come a long way since it was accomplished by rubbing flower petals on teeth in the 1100s Nowadays, it seems as though the majority of people are concerned with the appearance of their smile, as evidenced by the multitude of teeth whitening products that can be found in nearly every health and beauty care aisle.

But when did America become obsessed with perfect smiles? A recent article published by ABC News highlighted the history of this trend.

The news provider reported that whitening dates back to 1100s, during which some physicians recommended that patients scrub their teeth with a yellow flower called elecampane, or a mixture of sage and salt.

In some cases, people would use acid washes to help brighten their smiles. However, the news organization noted that this erodes enamel and weakens teeth.

"I think [the popularity of whitening has] followed the rise in plastic surgery and other elective cosmetic procedures throughout the 1990s. It's a matter of what people are willing to put their income into," said Scott Swank, curator of the National Museum of Dentistry, quoted by the news source.

In 2007, the Academy of General Dentistry stated that teeth whitening was a $600 million industry, and that it grows between 15 and 20 percent each year.

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