Avicenna’s View on Tooth Whitening

Document Type: Original Article


1 Assistance Professor, Guilan University

2 Endodentist and student of Iranian studies


Although esthetic is a relative issue, depending upon the country and culture, almost all around the world, there is a consensus that a beautiful set of teeth is the one which is white and bright and is aligned regularly. In Iran also the main feature of a beautiful tooth is its whiteness. During the past decades and centuries, tooth discoloration was considered as an esthetic issue and different methods, such as titled tooth bleaching, was used to address this problem. Our predecessors also appreciated white teeth and one chapter of Avicenna’s major compilation, Canon of Medicine, discussed about this. A number of questions may arise in this regard: is the method suggested by Avicenna for treating tooth discoloration efficient? Could he differentiate between the various causes of tooth discoloration? In spite of going through too many trials and errors, traditional medicine, with its long history, was able to achieve partial success in diagnosing and treating diseases. And as Avicenna was one of the pioneers in traditional medicine, this research discussed tooth discoloration already dealt with in Canon of Medicine (part 10 of 7th chapter). In spite of various causes of tooth discoloration, in the last century, tooth bleaching has been accomplished by using chemicals that activate oxidation. Before the invention of chemical method, the mechanical approach was used, abrading the surface of tooth. It was also efficient in treating a special kind of discoloration. Avicenna prescribed different herbal, mineral and animal medications in order to treat tooth discoloration. While some of the medications had abrasive effects, some others probably whitened teeth with a mechanism different from oxidation. The result of this research, which was a descriptive-interpretative method, showed that Avicenna’s differential diagnosis between the causes of tooth discoloration resembles more and less the contemporary dentistry, although, the efficiency of his method of treatment should be assessed more in detail by conducting further research.