This section of the book is from the "Household Companion: The Home Book Of Etiquette" book.
Cleanliness is one of the surest means for overcoming the causes which lead to the destruction of the teeth. They should be carefully brushed night and morning; it is a good practice to rinse the mouth after each meal, if possible; the particles of food which lodge between the teeth decompose and cause, sooner or later, the abominable tartar which is so fatal to teeth.
Some persons use cold water in cleansing the teeth and rinsing the mouth. I advise warm water for both purposes. One should use an infusion of mint or the following mixture : Three grammes of borax and nine grammes of pure glycerine, in a quart of warm water. The first and more simple wash is the better.
It is sufficient to brush the teeth with soap two or three times each week (without interfering with the daily cleansing). For this a very pure soap should be used. It is not an agreeable process, but one soon becomes used to it, and the results are very desirable. Soap contains alkali, and alkalies are highly recommended for the teeth. They are antiseptic, and, therefore, very useful for the mouth. Soap removes the deposits on the teeth, which many of the most famous powders do not, except by destroying the enamel which protects them.
Teeth should not be brushed too long at a time. Doing this injures the gums, and in this way the teeth may be loosened. The upper teeth should be brushed from above downwards (from the gums toward the edges), the lower teeth from below upwards. The inside of the teeth should be as carefully brushed as the outside.
The gums must be well cared for, for when they are healthy there is a better chance that the teeth will be healthy also.
When they are soft the following powder will harden them : Peruvian bark, fifteen grammes; powdered ratanhia, six grammes; chlorate of potassa, five grammes. These powders should be well mixed so as to form but one, with which the gums should be rubbed three or four times daily.
The gums must be gradually accustomed to vigorous friction. When soft, gums bleed easily. They should be washed in an infusion of gentian or blackberry leaves, into which are put a few drops of the tincture of Peruvian bark, or cologne. Demon juice also has excellent effects on gums which are soft, or even where there is ulceration. Dip a little soft brush in the juice, and carefully pass over the sore places without touching the teeth. Painting the gums with a tincture of ratanhia and the tincture of pyrethrum in equal parts is often recommended. Apply at night.
A decoction of myrrh, tannin, and oak bark is an excellent astringent for tender or bleeding gums.
There are foods which injure the teeth--sugar, sweets, pastry, etc. The abuse of acids destroys the enamel of the teeth. Figs, like sugar, relax and soften the gums; oils, natural fat, or grease, do them no good.
Be careful not to drink anything very cold immediately after swallowing soup. The teeth will suffer from the violent change of temperature.