Mental Floss

Toothpaste fetish?


People keep calling our office and offering free dental appointments, and we were finally so sick of taking their calls that I threw myself under the bus and agreed: fine--shower me with your comped dentistry! I don't mind going to the dentist--as long as the incline angle on the chair incline isn't drastically obtuse--and I love keeping up with the latest kinds of toothpaste hand-outs. When I was a kid, a favorite pastime was gargling with concoctions that would highlight where your teeth were hoarding plaque. And after perusing the fact vault at Toothpaste World, I found I wasn't alone in my preoccupation. The collection displayed is impressive--there's chocolate toothpaste, Scotch toothpaste, and Hopalong Cassidy toothpaste. And, naturally, the toothpaste history lesson:

According to the document, written in the fourth century AD, the ingredients needed for the perfect smile are one drachma of rock salt - a measure equal to one hundredth of an ounce - two drachmas of mint, one drachma of dried iris flower and 20 grains of pepper, all of them crushed and mixed together. The result is a pungent paste which one Austrian dentist who tried it said made his gums bleed but was a "big improvement" on some toothpaste formula used as recently as a century ago.