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By Leslie Anderson

THE teeth which we brush so diligently every day have so captured the imagination oi men down through the ages that literally thousands of legends and curious superstitions have sprung up concerning them. The power of the teeth to bring pain and anguish as well as to determine beauty and ugliness has focussed the attention on this part of the human anatomy to a. much greater degree than that accorded the rest of the body.

In the year 1865 a "professor" residing in Paris seriously taught that the characteristic personality of a man could be found out by studying his teeth. He tried to prove that teeth perfectly in alinement were a sign of orderliness and magnanimity in the person under observation. Teeth which slanted toward the lips pointed to a passion for imitation and mockery. Those whose teeth bent inward toward the palate possessed the instinct and the impulse to do wrong. The "professor's" list of characteristics was long and detailed, but men of science have never taken his statements seriously enough to accord him recognition. This study of the teeth belongs in the same category as the reading of one's fortune in the wrinkles oi the palm and the bumps on the head.

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The early Romans thought that an infant born with a tooth was so remarkable that he should have a surname commemorating the oddity. The famous consul Manius Curius (250 B.C.) owed his surname "Dentatus" to the fact that several of his deciduous teeth had come through before he was born.

On the other hand, the country people of Hungary are very suspicious of babies horn with teeth. They believe these offspring to be changelings who shortly after their birth were exchanged by witches for the real children stolen by them and as a result are treated with general contempt.

Much worse is the fate of such children in certain negro tribes in Africa. Among the Basutos, the women assisting at childbirth mercilessly kill each baby born with teeth (or any other deformity) by drowning it in a pot of water.

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At any time as far back as the history of mankind can be traced, at any epoch of civilization, and at any place where men live, very definite rules were, and are observed regarding the disposal of the children's "baby" teeth after they have dropped out. Although the traditional prescription varies slightly from one national group to another the basic act is this: When a milk tooth falls out, the child is supposed to throw it away over his shoulder backward, or over a roof, or into a mousehole, and ask a mouse, or a rat, or a squirrel, or a fox, or some other animal to take the tooth and give the child a better one in its place.

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The ancients prized white healthy teeth as much as we do today, but adequate cleaning methods were unknown to many of them. Regular dental hygiene was not practiced in Greece until the country was made a Roman province. Under the influence of their western neighbor, the Grecians learned how to use pumice, talcum, emery, granulated alabaster stone and coral powder for dentifrices. Iron rust, too, was recommended.

The Romans themselves were not too particular what they ground into powder to use for teeth-cleaning purposes. Bones, hoofs, and horns of certain animals, crabs, egg shells. and oyster shells were pulverized by them after first being burnt and then mixed with honey.

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Plant remedies as well as those obtained from animals were popular before the development of scientific dentistry. Garlic was one of the most popular remedies. The ancient Greeks considered a decoction of garlic together with aromatic resinous pine vyood and incense helpful if kept in the mouth.

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The most renowned example of honor accorded to a tooth is found in the history of the celebrated tooth of Buddha. Tracing the worship of this relic, a strange and fantastic history is unearthed.

In the temple of Kandy, India, there is assumed to exist, among other treasures of untold value, that most sacred and precious piece, the tooth of Buddha, which is esteemed with devotion by four hundred and fifty millions of people. It is said to be one of the four canine teeth of Gautama, which were among his seven great relics, and has been famous in Ceylonese Buddhism as the Dalada. Its miraculous preservation from every means taken to destroy it by a hostile Indian king, and its ultimate arrival in Ceylon in the year of 312 reads like an exciting adventure story. The Chinese traveler Fa-bian describes the procession of the relic as he saw it in 405. In the thirteenth century Dhammakitti Wrote a Pali poem about it, based on an older Singbalese work in prose named "Datha Vamsa." Once it was sold for many millions to the King of Burma. At a later time the Portuguese are believed to have crushed it into fragments and thrown it into the ocean, yet the Ceylonese preserved it at Kandy in a shrine in its original form and size, the size of a hippopotamus' tooth; it must be remembered that this tooth was not taken from a common mortal mans mouth but from the mouth of that worshiped superman, Buddha.

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