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.
-9, 31.117, 32.65, 79; Scrib. Larg. Comp.
Pounded pumice was a more dubious article, though Pliny (36.156
) says, “Utilissima fiunt ex