Teeth through time: 20th-century mouthwash
In the past, there were no big dental companies making toothpastes and other products. Dentists made their own mouthwashes and dentifrices (toothpowders). Some of these had very strange ingredients; lots of dentists recommended urine (wee!) as a mouthwash, and the Ancient Greeks suggested the head of a hare in toothpaste!
This recipe for mouthwash dates to the 1920s and was from a book of medicines for people to make at home. The original recipe includes an ingredient called 'limewater. It is actually made from a chemical called calcium hydroxide and would have helped to remove any dirt from the teeth. We've left it out because it can be harmful if swallowed.
Adult supervision is not required for this activity.
Ages : Suitable for all ages.
Time Required: 5 minutes
Boil the pint of water in a kettle and set it aside in the mixing jug to cool
Grind together the fennel seeds, salt and sugar using a pestle and mortar
Add the ground mixture to the jug of cooled boiled water, and then add 3 drops of peppermint oil or flavouring
Stir all the ingredients together.
You've successfully made your 20th-century mouthwash!
Remember, if you try the mouthwash yourself wait for it to cool down and try not to swallow it!
We asked YAC volunteer, Ian, to try the mouthwash. He said it "could do with less salt. The fennel is biscuity and overall it is better than the medieval recipe... actually, it's not too bad!"
Why not have a go at making our marvellous medieval mouthwash too?!
- 1 pint of boiled water, cooled
- 1 teaspoon of salt
- 1 teaspoon of fennel seeds
- Pinch of sugar
- 3 drops of peppermint oil (peppermint flavouring)
- Pestle and mortar
- Mixing jug