Amy Drown | Oral Hygiene in 1882
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Oral Hygiene in 1882

The Teeth


The teeth should be carefully brushed with a soft brush after each meal, and also on retiring at night. Use the brush so that not only the outside of the teeth is white, but the inside also. After the brush is used plunge it two or three times into a glass of fresh water, then rub it quite dry on a towel.


Use no tooth-washes nor powders whatever. There may be some harmless ones, but it is impossible for a person or ordinary knowledge to discriminate between them, and that which seems to be rendering the teeth beautifully white may soon destroy the enamel which covers them. Castile soap used once a day, with frequent brushings with pure water and a soft brush, cannot fail to keep the teeth clean and white, unless they are disfigured and destroyed by other bad habits, such as the use of tobacco or too hot or too cold drinks.


Tartar is not so easily dealt with, but it requires equally early attention. It results from an impaired state of the general health, and assumes the form of a yellowish concretion on the teeth and gums. At first it is possible to keep it down by a repeated and vigorous use of the tooth-brush; but if a firm, solid mass accumulates, it is necessary to have it chipped off by a dentist. Unfortunately, too, by that time it will probably have begun to loosen and destroy the teeth on which it fixes, and is pretty certain to have produced one obnoxious effect—that of tainting the breath.


On the slightest appearance of decay or a tendency to accumulate tartar, go at once to a dentist. If a dark spot appearing under the enamel is neglected, it will eat in until the tooth is eventually destroyed. A dentist seeing the tooth in its first stage will remove the decayed part and plug the cavity in a proper manner.


Washing the teeth with vinegar when the brush is used has been recommended as a means of removing tartar.


Tenderness of the gums, to which some persons are subject, may sometimes be met by the use of salt and water, but it is well to rinse the mouth frequently with water with a few drops of tincture of myrrh in it.


Relief in cases of decay may sometimes be obtained by thrusting into the cavity with a needle a little cotton-wool saturated with creosote or oil of cloves.


About toothache it is only necessary to point out that it results from various causes, and that therefore it is impossible to give any general remedy for it. It may be occasioned by decay, by inflammation of the membrane covering the root, or the pain may be neuralgic, or there may be other causes.


When there is inflammation, relief is often gained by applying camphorated chloroform, to be procured at the druggist’s. This has often succeeded when laudanum and similar applications have entirely failed.


It may be added that foul breath, unless caused by neglected teeth, indicates a deranged state of the system. When it is occasioned by the teeth or other local cause, use a gargle consisting of a spoonful of solution of chloride of lime in half a tumbler of water. Gentlemen smoking, and thus tainting the breath, may be glad to know that the common parsley has a peculiar effect in removing the odor of tobacco.


from Decorum (1882)


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