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DENTIFRI´CIUM (ὀδοντότριμμα, ὀδοντόσμηγμα), dentifrice or tooth-powder, appears to have been skilfully prepared and generally used among the Romans. A variety of substances, such as the bones, hoofs, and horns of certain animals, crabs, egg-shells, and the shells of the oyster and the murex, constituted the basis of the preparation. Having been previously burnt, and sometimes mixed with honey, they were reduced to a fine powder. Though fancy and superstition often directed the choice of these ingredients, the addition of astringents, such as myrrh, or of nitre and of hartshorn ground in a raw state, indicates science which was the result of experience, the intention being not only to clean the teeth and to render them white, but also to fix them when loose, to strengthen the gums, and to assuage toothache. (Plin. Nat. 28.178-9, 31.117, 32.65, 79; Scrib. Larg. Comp. 59.) Pounded pumice was a more dubious article, though Pliny (36.156) says, “Utilissima fiunt ex his dentifricia.”

[J.Y] [J.H.F]

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