As the techniques and materials available to dentists have improved over the past few decades, better and more conservative restorations have become possible. Extensive preparation and tooth destruction have given way to a genuine concern for the preservation of tooth structure. Most recently, much attention has been devoted to the esthetic aspects of dentistry and the patient's concerns for appearance. The past three decades have been the most dynamic period that dentistry has ever known.
As the population's dental awareness has grown, so has its demand for a natural (or preferably supernatural) smile. The one inescapable fact in the study of tooth whitening is that patients are very eager to have whiter and brighter smiles. The cultural environment encouraged by toothpaste advertisements and Hollywood, and bolstered by the personal need to appear healthy and young, deems that discolored or dark teeth are no longer socially acceptable. Patients are therefore seeking, and even self-administering, many exotic and questionable procedures to achieve the whiter smiles they desire. It is the dentist's responsibility to supervise those patients who seek to undergo a whitening treatment to ensure the maximum cosmetic benefit within the boundaries of oral and systemic health.
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