The ancient Romans washed their teeth with urine. The best era of Portugal

Carole Raddato / Wikimedia

Illustration of a reconstruction of common latrines in Vercovicium.

Ancient Romans used urine to whiten teeth and prevent them from decaying. The most expensive urine came from Portugal, as it was believed to be the best.

We probably don’t imagine that the ancient Romans took the greatest care of oral health. However, the truth is that there are indications that there were some concerns, one of which is quite bizarre in the eyes of today: wash your teeth with urine.

The Romans believed that urine – both human and animal – would leave their whiter teeth and would prevent them from deteriorating. According to the portal Ancient Originsused it as mouthwash and used it in mixtures to make toothpaste.

The idea is not as far-fetched as it seems. Urine is rich in important minerals and chemicals such as phosphorus and potassium. At the time, without the resources we currently have, it would be a good alternative to help maintain oral health. In fact, urine was used in the manufacture of toothpastes and mouthwashes. until the 18th century.

Interestingly, the Romans considered that the best urine—and therefore the most expensive— came from Portugal. They considered that Portuguese urine was the strongest and, therefore, the most effective in whitening teeth.

Urine was so popular in ancient Rome that even a tax was created by Roman Emperors Nero and Vespasian. THE urinary bladder was created for the collection of urine in public urinals.

This is where the tax clause was born pecuniary non oletwhich establishes that, for the tax authorities, it matters little whether or not the taxable income had a legal or moral source.

Roman historians Suetonius and Cassius Dio recount that when Titus complained to his father about the immoral nature of the tax and that it made the city stink, Vespasian took a gold coin and said Non olet (no smell).

Daniel Costa, ZAP //

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