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A Brief History of Mouthwash

Posted On September 25, 2013

Mouthwash is a popular dental hygiene product that people can use at home. When used at least twice a day in combination with proper brushing and flossing, mouthwash can help prevent cavities, treat or prevent gingivitis and give us sparkling fresh breath. It is sold under various brands all over the world and used either before brushing or afterwards as a rinse.

Not many people know that mouthwash was invented all the way back in the year 2700 B.C. and was used by the Chinese as medicine to treat gum disease (which today we call gingivitis). The Greeks and the Romans were also known to use forms of mouthwash, at least in the upper classes. In those days mouthwash mostly consisted of ammonia and the Romans even used human urine as mouthwash for a time. A less icky recipe called for a mixture of salt, alum and vinegar. Still, it doesn’t sound like something you’d want to rinse your mouth out with today.

In the 17th century a scientist named Anton van Leeuwenhoek looked through a microscope and saw that there were tiny moving organisms, or germs, on our teeth and gums. Through lots of trial and error he discovered that a mixture of brandy and vinegar would immobilize or kill the bacteria which because another use for mouthwash.

Reading about what used to pass for mouthwash back in the olden days will surly give you a newfound appreciation for artificial flavoring. Most modern mouthwashes are flavored in mint or menthol for a squeaky clean feeling and fresh breath. Also, the antibacterial agents in mouthwash that fight of germs also helps freshen breath. Today’s mouthwash is constantly improving and now strives to fight plaque buildup and help whiten teeth. Future mouthwash recipes will be stronger and do even more to help enhance the act of brushing and flossing alone.

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