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to be SHOCKED by something MIL told me about her childhood?

(51 Posts)
SybilBeddows Sun 19-Jun-11 18:02:48

This was Derby in the 1930s, working class family (her dad was a builder), well-looked-after in general, they had a bathroom and were not neglected or living on the breadline.

They never brushed their teeth.
And their dad told them if they wanted to clean them they should get some soot from the chimney and do it with a finger, or if they didn't like the taste of soot they could use salt.

When she was 8 she saw an advert for toothbrushes and begged and begged her mum to get her one, and her mum finally gave in but she didn't know what to do with it. confused

I am shock shock shock shock

WizardofOs Sun 19-Jun-11 18:04:21

My grandmother in law had all her teeth taken out at 21 and got a lovely false pair. That was considered normal! Also Derbyshire.

Devendra Sun 19-Jun-11 18:04:22

As far as I know soot or ash was regularly used to brush teeth... It was 80 years ago so why are you so shocked?

hpsaucy Sun 19-Jun-11 18:05:01

my mil used salt. had false teeth at the age of 21!!!

Psammead Sun 19-Jun-11 18:06:56

My grandmother also got falsies.

You would be very shocked if I told you of my own mother's early life. It was a different world back then.

GwendolineMaryLacey Sun 19-Jun-11 18:07:53

Perfectly normal. Girls used to have their perfectly good teeth taken out at a young age because the upkeep was so expensive and teeth often caused a lot of pain. I've read many cases where the girl's parents would do this as a wedding present.

follyfoot Sun 19-Jun-11 18:08:30

Using soot/salt/not cleaning was common in years gone by. I dont think its got anything to do with Derbyshire grin

trumpton Sun 19-Jun-11 18:09:54

My dad had his first toothbrush as part of his kit as a boy entrant into the RAF at 17 years old. He had a few teeth on a bridge but kept most of his teeth until he died at 85 years old.

WizardofOs Sun 19-Jun-11 18:11:26

No I wasn't suggesting Derbyshire was a hotbed of dental oddness. Just noting the coincidence!

giveitago Sun 19-Jun-11 18:12:43

Don't think it's that's uncommon. My mil (abroad) has no teeth - lost them all by the time she was 20 - I see lots of missing teeth now in her village. DH lost most of his years back (has bridges) - sil lost a few of hers and even now I see very little evidence of teeth brushing when I stay with dh's family.

In fact - I ensure that ds has brushed his teeth before I go to work as I know for a fact that if I don't get him to do it it doesn't get done.

But then my dm - from abroad has all her very straight and white teeth in her 70's and she always brushed back then.

SybilBeddows Sun 19-Jun-11 18:13:02

I'm shocked because it was only 70 years ago. I know this is how people used to clean teeth but didn't know it was this recent and in a town and not particularly deprived (bathrooms etc).

I will have to quiz my parents more closely but I'm fairly sure they had toothbrushes and dentists and were from a similar background.

lazylula Sun 19-Jun-11 18:14:45

My nan was born in 1920 and had all her own teeth until she died in her eighties, whenever she went into hospial they were always surprised she had no dentures as it was rare for people of that era to still have all their own teeth.

MynamesMikeIswimlikeafish Sun 19-Jun-11 18:18:51

My dad is 75 and he used salt to clean his teeth. He still has them all.

SybilBeddows Sun 19-Jun-11 18:20:56

I somehow find salt a lot less shocking than soot.
I'm sure soot was a perfectly good abrasive but just imagine having a mouthful of soot, yeugh.
And to think modern toothpastes are full of stuff to make them look nice and white!

Troubletutmill Sun 19-Jun-11 18:23:19

When the NHS came in to being they were known by dentists as the blood and vulcanite days as so many people went to the dentist for the first time and had to have their teeth all removed. The guy that told me this was a very young dentist at the time and he was the first dentist I worked for in 1986 ish.

Isitreally Sun 19-Jun-11 18:26:57

Soot or ash was quite common. You just had a small amount to rub over the teeth (not a laden toothbrush of paste like we might use).

And yes it was very common to have all your teeth removed in early adulthood to prevent trouble with them later in life. Until penicillin was invented / widelty available an abscess in the tooth could be fatal through blood poisoning and that wasn't so long ago either. Lots of vicorian medical documents show people "died of the tooth"

Tanith Sun 19-Jun-11 18:27:07

I have an old copy of a 1948 Girl Guide handbook where Lord Baden-Powell explains to the Brownies how to make a toothbrush out of a twig so they can brush their teeth.

pranma Sun 19-Jun-11 18:31:12

My mum had all her teeth out when she was 20 and so did her sister-because they 'might as well get it all over with at once'!!This was around 1940.

My mum and my aunt were both pregnant at the same time (me and my cousin) in 1975 and they were both advised by different dentists to have teeth taken out because of pregnancy.

The first advert ever shown on British TV was in 1955 and was for toothpaste (they held some kind of lottery to decide who got to be first). I don't know why I'm pointing that out.

http://www.whoinventedit.net/who-invented-toothpaste.html

I should have said, they didn't take the advice!

SybilBeddows Sun 19-Jun-11 18:37:28

my grandparents all had them out and had false teeth (Grandma's fell into a French canal on one memorable occasion when she fell asleep with her head lolling over the side of the boat.)

chibi Sun 19-Jun-11 18:42:36

Maybe this is a uk thing

All of the oldies in my family have their own teeth, despite living in real poverty and as refugees, no access to dentists

Dh's parents both have dentures (british)

No idea why this should be so

I will have to ask them what they did for tooth care

diddl Sun 19-Jun-11 18:45:34

All my GPs had false teeth-born around 1900.

But all of my Aunts & Uncles still have their own teeth.

Mandy2003 Sun 19-Jun-11 18:47:34

As noted by Pranma, I think having all your teeth out was viewed as a "rite of passage" in those days.

Also, you lose one tooth for every pregnancy/child you have? Can't remember exactly what but it was a common belief. Perhaps British teeth are notoriously crap? People in developing countries always look like they have beautiful teeth no matter what hardship they live in?

SybilBeddows Sun 19-Jun-11 18:48:27

Chibi - I know the British are notorious among Americans for having terrible teeth but I don't know how far back that went or whether we were worse compared to other old world countries too.

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