The Ladies' Vase eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 88 pages of information about The Ladies' Vase.
toothpicks, is a common ornament on the dining tables of Spain and Portugal.  The general use of them creates so large a demand, that students at Coimbra sometimes support themselves by whittling toothpicks, which are sold tied in small bunches like matches.  They are made of willow, on account of its toughness and pliability.  Toothpicks of metal are too hard, and are apt to injure the gums.  There is the same objection, in a less degree, to quills.  But willow toothpicks are preferable to all others; and they have the advantage of being the most cleanly, for they generally break in the using, and are thrown away.  Few sights are more offensive to a person of any refinement than a toothpick that has been much used; it is, moreover, uncleanly, and therefore not healthy for the teeth.  Food allowed to remain between the teeth, particularly animal food, is very destructive:  it should be carefully removed after every meal, and the mouth thoroughly rinsed.  This may seem to some like a great talk about a small matter; but these are simple precautions to take, and very slight trouble compared with the agony of aching teeth, or a breath so offensive that your best friend does not wish to sit near you.  I can see no reason why a man’s complexion should exclude him from the dining-table, but I do see a very good reason why he should be banished for not taking proper care of his teeth.  A bad breath is such a detestable thing, that it might be a sufficient reason for not marrying a person of otherwise agreeable qualities.  It is, moreover, perfectly inexcusable thus to transform oneself into a walking sepulchre.  Nobody needs to have an offensive breath.  A careful removal of substances from between the teeth, rinsing the mouth after meals, and a bit of charcoal held in the mouth, will always cure a bad breath.  Charcoal, used as a dentifrice—­that is, rubbed on in powder with a brush—­is apt to injure the enamel; but a lump of it, held in the mouth, two or three times in a week, and slowly chewed, has a wonderful power to preserve the teeth and purify the breath.  The action is purely chemical.  It counteracts the acid arising from a disordered stomach, or food decaying about the gums; and it is the acid which destroys the teeth.

Every one knows that charcoal is an antiputrescent, and is used in boxing up animal or vegetable substances, to keep them from decay.  Upon the same chemical principle, it tends to preserve the teeth and sweeten the breath.  There is no danger from swallowing it; on the contrary, small quantities have a healthful effect on the inward system, particularly when the body is suffering from that class of complaints peculiarly incident to summer.  It would not be wise to swallow that or any other gritty substance, in large quantities, or very frequently; but, once or twice a week, a little would be salutary, rather than otherwise.  A bit of charcoal, as big as a cherry, merely held in the mouth a few hours, without chewing, has a good effect.  At first, most persons dislike to chew it, but use soon renders it far from disagreeable.  Those who are troubled with an offensive breath might chew it very often and swallow it but seldom.  It is particularly important to clean and rinse the mouth thoroughly before going to bed; otherwise a great deal of the destructive acid will form during the night.

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The Ladies' Vase from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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