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More Harm Than Good
To clean their teeth, some colonists used abrasives or metal tooth picks to remove bits of food or tartar from between the teeth. Neglect was the norm, but in at least one case, repetitive tooth cleaning caused serious damage.
Recipes of the time for tooth whitening and cleaning were acidic and abrasive. They included the use of salt and vinegar, as well as ingredients such as tobacco ashes, rubbed onto teeth with a cloth.