Teeth through time: Marvellous medieval mouthwash
Today we can go to the dentist and know how to look after our teeth by brushing regularly and eating fewer sweets. But this wasn’t the case for our ancestors.
From the Ancient Egyptians to the 17th century, people believed that tooth-worms caused cavities (painful holes in teeth). 'Quack’ doctors ‘smoked’ out the worms! There were other crazy cures too. Some Romans took the advice of one of their famous writers, Pliny, and went in search of a frog in the middle of the night! Medieval people prayed to the patron saint of toothache sufferers, St. Apollonia.
Medieval people may also have tried this mouthwash to keep their breath smelling sweet. Why not have a go at making it?
Adult supervision is not required for this activity.
Ages : Suitable for all ages.
Time Required: 5 minutes
Crush the peppercorns with a pestle and mortar or pepper grinder
Tear the mint into small pieces
Measure out 2 cups of red grape juice into a mixing jug.
Add the crushed peppercorns and mint
Stir all the ingredients together
You now have a medieval mouthwash (although wine would have been used rather than grape juice).
Remember, if you try the mouthwash yourself it is best not to swallow it!
YAC volunteer, Ian, tried the medieval mouthwash. He said it "was fresh because of the mint, and the pepper made it quite 'tingly', but the grape juice was too sweet."
Why not have a go at making our early 20th-century mouthwash too?!
- 2 cups of red grape juice
- Fresh mint (a handful)
- Teaspoon of peppercorns
- Pestle and mortar to crush the peppercorns (or you could use a pepper grinder or ready ground pepper)
- Mixing jug