Victorian London - Health and Hygiene - Dentistry and Teeth - cleaning

    The most efficacious method of getting the mouth clean with a brush is to follow up the horizontal brushing with a perpendicular brushing from the gum downwards between the teeth. A Hindoo friend always keeps a piece of liquorice stick in his mouth while he is performing his toilet, and this piece of fibrous stick, which he keeps on chewing, acts as a splendid tooth brush. The chewing of sugar cane by the West Indian negroes helps to account for their beautifully clean teeth, and, generally speaking the world over, every animal keeps its teeth clean by chewing some sort of fibrous material. The instinct is born in children who love to chew bits of straw, grass and stick, and are often reproved by parents who little know that this is one of Natureís lessons to her little ones. 
    The modern habit of using all foods sloppy or artificially prepared has much to answer for in the way of dirty teeth. Notice the difference between such a simple thing as whole-meal bread and white bread! The former is much less likely to stick between the teeth, and the flakes in it have a scrubbing action on the enamel, which white flour bread has not. The black bread of the peasants of other lands, and of England in bygone times, not only from its chemical constituents, but from its mechanical action, did much for the preserving of the teeth, and as a result the best teeth are not to be found among the higher classes who take the most artificial care of them, but among those peasant races that live on the hardiest teeth-cleaning foods. Quite an unsuspected cause of dental decay is the use of flesh foods and soft starch foods. The fibres of the flesh get between the teeth, and there rapidly decay. This constitutes the great difference between the fibres of meat and the fibres of the liquorice root. The latter cleanse and do not decay, the former decay and do not cleanse. The best thing to do is to see that the daily food contains something or other which will give teeth work of a cleansing character. A thick piece of wholemeal bread is fairly good; but the chewing of liquorice root, or sugar cane, or some other fibrous substance (like tough celery) is still better. If using a toothpick, use a quill or a bamboo splint, or a thorn from a hawthorn bush. Donít use pins or needles, or metal or any sort.

Mothers and Daughters, 1890

see also The Lady's Dressing Room - click here

Rowland's Odonto

advertisement, Pick Me Up, 1891


advertisement from
Baroness Staffe,
The Lady's Dressing Room, 1893