The Strange History of Mouthwash UNUSUAL INGREDIENTS
There’s a tendency to assume people didn’t care about their teeth until the advent of modern dentistry, but the truth is that civilizations throughout history sought to clean their teeth and freshen their breath through many different techniques. However, the level of effectiveness — or hygiene — of these strategies was often questionable. Take mouthwash for example. People have been using mouthwash to treat oral conditions since the ancient Egyptians, but the best- recorded formulas for popular mouthwashes come from the Roman Empire. Romans would often buy bottles of Portuguese urine, hoping the ammonia in urine would clean their mouths and whiten their teeth. We do not recommend this approach. Around the same “Was in pain for about a week when I realized it was time to get my wisdom teeth out. My dentist recommended Dr. Graffeo. I called and was told I could come right in for a consultation. The entire staff was very welcoming and so, so friendly! I had an appointment the next day to get them out. Laney and Dr. Graffeo were beyond excellent in making sure I was comfortable and very informative about what should be done for the next few days. He even called later that night to see how I was doing. I couldn’t recommend a better oral surgeon and his staff to anyone! Thank you!” –Megan B.
time, other common mouthwashes called for dough water or tortoise blood.
noted how effective the formula was at killing oral bacteria. Unfortunately, no one was buying. People just weren’t worried about bad breath. Eager to make their product part of every American’s oral hygiene routine, Listerine coined the term “halitosis” as part of a marketing campaign to raise awareness about bad breath. The campaign was a huge success. Listerine’s company profits rose 4,000 percent in seven years. Today, sodium hexametaphosphate and hydrogen peroxide have replaced urine and tortoise blood as the most common ingredients in mouthwash. If you ask us, this is a welcome upgrade.
Across the sea, the Aztecs used mouthwash made from the savoyane plant. Now, if you have to choose between urine and savoyane, you might want to go with the latter. Fortunately, today we have a wealth of mouthwash brands to choose from in the grocery store. However, it’s worth noting that the most popular brand of mouthwash, Listerine, has a history that’s almost as strange as ancient mouthwash remedies. Invented in 1879, Listerine was originally intended as a floor cleaner and antiseptic for surgery. In the late 19th century, Listerine hit the markets as a mouthwash after dentists
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