white teeth

For those who think things were better in the past, I just say look at the people’s teeth. It used to be normal to have a yellow tint to your teeth, even the movie stars didn’t have the pearl white teeth that we see on today’s kids. Today as I look at the next generation of kids and young adults I can’t overlook how white and bright all their smiles are. What happened? When I was a kid we went to the dentist twice a year as recommended, checked for cavities and if any were found the dentist would drill them out and fill the cavity with a silver colored mixture of silver, copper, and mercury. It wasn’t until later that physicians realized mercury was a toxic material so a lot of kids were walking around with a mercury contaminated mouth. If your teeth were not straight then god awful braces were recommended. The braces were the size of train tracks and at night you had to wear a neck brace to hold them firmly in place. Braces were only recommended for the most crooked of teeth, if your teeth basically went north to south you were fine. We had three kids in our family and none of us were put in braces. It was by far the minority to have to wear braces and the verbal abuse for wearing them was unrelenting. Whitening of teeth was just unheard of in the 60’s and 70’s. It was in the 1980s when in-office bleaching techniques became widespread in the dental profesion. By the mid-1990s, people could easily get teeth whitening products over the counter. I started noticing it on television first where smiles seemed unnaturally white. The cast of “Friends” all had perfectly straight and white teeth. It looked fake at first, but as the masses began whitening, it became normal and those of us with unbleached yellowish teeth were freaks. When asked to smile I would get a chorus of “E-w-w-w-w!” It was soon my turn to be the parent and bring my kids in for their dental visits. Without fail all three kids were advised that they would need braces to correct their smile. I am convinced no one is born with perfectly straight teeth but if someone in authority tells you your child needs braces you do it rather than face a lifetime full of guilt. We spent thousands of dollars on each kid’s braces and of course teeth whitening when they came off. You do it because they are your children…no questions asked. You don’t want other kids calling your children “horse mouth”, “hillbilly” or “it looks like your kid was eating apples thru a chain link fence”. Fortunately braces had become far less evasive and some transparent, but the kids favorite part was picking out the color of rubber bands that went along with the braces. At least for all the effort their teeth do look fantastic and all have wonderful smiles. So does almost every other kid their age. I have seen some over-do it and their smiles come off as florescent rather just white. It is most obvious when older people have their teeth super whitened, teeth like the rest of the body are supposed to age. But all things considered people’s teeth are by far more attractive than they were a generation ago. For the record teeth are naturally yellow in color. The outer most covering of the teeth (enamel) is white. However the layer below this, which is dentin, is naturally yellow. The outer layer is translucent which makes the color yellow more apparent. This cannot be changed without the use of advanced whitening methods. I try to explain this to my kids who all give me the E-w-w-w when I smile, but to no avail. Let’s face it whiter teeth are more attractive than yellow. Maybe thru a genetic mutation future children will be born with naturally white and straight teeth.



  1. I was blessed with perfectly straight teeth ~never had braces or teeth whitening. I honestly think people believe that whitened teeth make people look younger, better, sexier. And maybe they are right!

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