Old medieval picture content for how to get rid of bad breath

Bad Breath: A Big Deal in Medieval England

IN THE MIDDLE AGES, the English didn’t understand much about cavities or gum disease, but they did put a huge emphasis on having fresh breath and discovering different ways of how to get rid of bad breath. Why? Because, not knowing how germs work, they believed the reason for bad breath was disease. The thought was the actual bad smell was what carried the disease.


The Fresh Breath of Middle English Literary Characters

Believe it or not, almost all dental care in Medieval England was about smells. This practice even made it into the Canterbury Tales, where Chaucer’s characters chew cardamom and licorice to keep their breath smelling clean. And what about how to get rid of bad breath in women? Well, a mixture of aniseed, cumin, and fennel was sometimes recommended to women.


Dental Woes of Medieval England

What other dental problems were they living with while focusing mainly on breath? Fortunately, there wasn’t much sugar to cause cavities in the diet of Medieval England. Unfortunately, small particles of stone would get into their bread from the millstones they used to grind flour, and that caused severe erosion. Most adults would lose four to six teeth in their lifetimes.


Treatment for Alleged “Tooth Worms”

Things got really weird if you ever had a toothache. A toothache was thought to be a tooth with worms! Physicians believed toothaches were caused by tiny tooth worms, and remedies included myrrh and opium. Those were expensive, though, so a cheaper option was to burn a candle very close to the tooth so the alleged worms would fall out into a basin of water. We bet you’ll never look at worm the same way again!


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The content on this blog is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of qualified health providers with questions you may have regarding medical conditions.

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