Tooth powder

tooth powder

 

When I was a child, I brushed my teeth with toothpaste. My parents did not use paste. Instead they used Calox Tooth Powder. A small amount of this was sprinkled into the palm of one hand and then mixed into a paste using the wettened bristles of a toothbrush. The resulting gritty paste was then used to brush the teeth. I have no idea why my parents used the powder, but made us use toothpaste.

Many decades later, this year, I visited the Indian city of Pondicherry, which was a colony of France until 1954. We stopped at a tea stall that in addition to providing tea also sold small packets of paan and chewing tobacco (not very good for oral health) and packets of ‘Gopal Toothpowder’. Seeing the latter reminded my of my parents and their use of Calox. I asked the vendor how the tooth powder is used. He opened his mouth and rubbed his finger along his teeth. In his opinion, no brush is required. I bought a couple of packets, but have not yet been adventurous enough to try to use their contents.

Hard sell

clean mouth teeth dentist

 

An engraving of the Tower of Babel by Dolf Rieser (see: More about Dolf Rieser) used to hang overlooking the first landing of the staircase in our family home in north-west London.

In my thirties I worked as a dentist and lived in north Kent. Almost every weekend, I used to drive to visit my widowed father in our family home. On one of these visits I noticed a box lying on the landing beneath the Tower of Babel engraving. It was an unopened, sealed box containing a dental water pik. This is a device that can be used to pulse tiny jets of water between neighbouring teeth in order to dislodge deposits of dental plaque (bacterial debris). It has proved to be a far less effective method of removing plague than dental floss, which itself is less eggective than the use of  tiny interdental brushes. I was a bit surprised that my father had bought a water pik as he is not a lover of gadgets.

For several weeks after I first noticed the unopened package, I kept returning to my family home and seeing the unopened package, which was gradually becoming covered with dust. Eventually, I asked my father about it.

He told me that each time he visited his dentist, ‘D’, he was asked to purchase one of these water piks. After a series of visits, he paid out almost £100 to buy one. I asked him why he had wasted his money on something he was not going to use. He said:

“D kept on pestering me to buy one. He was getting on my nerves, so to shut him up I bought one. I have no intention of using it.”

No doubt profit was not the only motive for D wanting my father to own a water pik, and he might have been surprised by my father’s reason for buying one, namely to put an end to his ‘hard sell’.

 

To see the Tower of Babel engraving, click: HERE

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