The earliest Egyptians cleaned their teeth with powdered ox hooves, myrrh, eggshells and pumice. How they applied such a yummy mix of flavors and textures to their teeth is unknown.
Ancient Romans scrubbed their choppers with a toothpaste made of rock salt and nettle (a variety which the Romans used to polish glass). They probably threw in a fragrant flower or two to make their breath sweet.
But for some, it wasn’t enough to just have clean teeth. They wanted smiles that dazzled. So they washed their teeth with…(wait for it)…human urine.
What, you didn’t know pee-pee has bleaching properties? How do you think those fancy Romans got their togas so bright-white and erm,…pisstine?
The Roman poet Catallus made fun of a man with one of these whizzy, Hollywood-like grins. Here’s how he ends his poem, “The Smiling Spaniard”:
…you rub your teeth and gums until they are red, so that the more polished those teeth of yours are, the more urine they proclaim you drank.
Think about that the next time you’re considering bleaching your pearly whites. But hey, at least our modern ways won’t leave you with such a horrible taste in your mouth!
Elizabeth O. Dulemba says
Oh. My. Gawd!!!! *blech*! e
vicki leon says
Vicky—you’re not only a good writer, you are an inveterate punner as well! soul sister! ciao, Vicki with an EYE
Vicky Alvear Shecter says
Thanks, Vicki–we are definitely cut from the same cloth. And e, can you even imagine? It’s stuff like this that makes history so funny and fascinating to me.