Frequently Asked Questions

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  • Toothpaste


    The activity of keeping the mouth clean dates all the way back to the religious figure Buddha. It has been recorded that he would use a "tooth stick" from the God Sakka as part of his personal hygiene regimen.

    Recipes were found for making toothpaste that date back to 1500 BC. Hippocrates (460 - 377 BC) recommended their use.

    In 23 - 79 AD the practice of oral hygiene included:
    • Drinking goats milk for sweet breath.
    • Ashes from burnt mice heads, rabbits heads, wolves heads, ox heels and goats feet were thought to benefit the gums.
    • Picking the bones out of wolves excrement and wearing them was considered to be a form of protection against toothaches.
    • Washing your teeth with the blood from a tortoise three times a year was a sure bet against toothaches as well.
    • Mouthwashes were known to consist of pure white wine, or old urine kept especially for this purpose.
    The 18th Century:
    • The earliest record of an actual toothpaste was in 1780 and included scrubbing the teeth with a formula containing burnt bread (a common North American breakfast).
    • 1? oz. dragons blood, 1? oz. cinnamon, 1 oz. burnt alum, beat the above ingredients together and use every second day.
    The 19th Century:
    • In the 19th century, charcoal became very popular for teeth cleaning purposes.
    • Most toothpastes at this time were in the form of a powder. The purpose of the tooth powder was not only to clean the teeth, but to give fresh breath.
    • The succulent strawberry was considered to be a "natural" solution for preventing tartar and giving fresh breath.
    • In 1855, the Farmers Almanac included this recipe for an appropriate toothpaste: 1 oz. myrrh (fine powder), 2 spoonfuls of your best honey, a pinch of green sage. Mix together and use every night on wet teeth.
    • Another toothpaste included: 2 oz. cuttlefish bone, 1 oz. cream of tartar, 2 drachms drop lake, 15 drops clover oil. Powder, mix, sift.
    The 20th Century:

    In the 1900's advertising began heralding the benefits of the active ingredients. Pepsodent contained the enzyme pepsin, which supposedly whitened teeth and dissolved dental plaque. Ipana contained ipecac, which was believed to be effective against the bacteria that caused periodontitis. In the 1950's, Procter & Gamble launched a marketing campaign for Crest with stannous fluoride which made it the No. 1 selling toothpaste for over forty years.
    • Liquid cleansers (mouth rinses) and pastes became more popular, often containing chlorophyll to give a fresh green color.
    • Bleeding gums became a concern as well as aching teeth.
    • In 1915 leaves from certain trees in South East Asia (Eucalyptus) were beginning to be used in mouthwash formulas.
    • Listerine was introduced in 1914.

    What does %w/w, %w/v and %v/v mean?

    Percentages listed on ingredient labels are calculated in very specific ways. Here is the scoop on what those percentages mean.

    percentage weight for weight - %w/w
    This means the percent by weight of solute in the total weight of solution. Percent here is the number of grams of solute in 100 grams of solution. For example, a 10% w/w solution of sodium fluoride would be made by first dissolving 10 grams of sodium fluoride in a solvent (most probably water in this case) and then adding solvent to a final weight of 100 grams of solution. (This is not 100 grams of solvent, but sufficient solvent such that the final weight of solution, that is, solute (sodium fluoride) plus solvent (water), is 100 grams.

    percentage weight for volume - %w/v
    This means the percent by weight of solute in the total volume of solution. Normally used where the solute is a solid. For example, a 10% w/v sodium fluoride solution would be prepared by dissolving 10 grams of sodium fluoride in 100ml of water.

    percentage volume for volume - %v/v
    This means the percent by volume of solute in the total volume of solution. Normally used where the solute is a liquid. For example, a 10% v/v ethanol solution (in water) is 10ml of ethanol in 100ml of solution.

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