A peer-reviewed journal that offers evidence-based clinical information and continuing education for dentists.

A Glimpse Into the Oral Hygiene Regimens of Ancient Romans


Ancient Romans had a unique and meticulous approach to oral hygiene, with toothpaste recipes featuring unconventional ingredients. A key component was powdered charcoal, derived from burned substances such as animal bones and oyster shells, providing the necessary abrasiveness for teeth cleaning. Strikingly, crushed mouse brains were believed to enhance the toothpaste’s effectiveness. The most peculiar ingredient, however, was human urine, imported in large quantities from Portugal, valued for its ammonia content and whitening properties as a mouthrinse and tooth whitener. The preparation of Roman toothpaste involved finely grinding the eclectic mix of ingredients, including herbs, mouse skulls, and urine, followed by mixing with a binder like honey to create a paste. Dentists primarily extracted teeth without anesthetics, yet only about one-third of skeletons from Pompeii and Herculaneum exhibited missing teeth, with a relatively low number showing carious lesions. Click here to read more.

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