Did you know that during the 19th century women in Japan thought black teeth were attractive, so they used to blacken them on purpose?
Nowadays having pearly whites is considered ideal and having even slightly yellow-ish teeth is considered as repulsive. However, the Japanese thought otherwise back in the 19th century. In fact, they even saw darkened teeth as something beautiful. Not only that, but they actually preferred having literally black teeth. Japanese women even blackened their teeth on purpose – a common practice called Ohaguro.
Ohaguro was widely practiced among Japanese women up until the 1870s. The origins of this strange practice date back to 250 AD. Pre-historic corpses with blackened teeth are the proof of that. Back then people used all sorts of methods in order to get that perfect pitch black color – from ferric acetate (iron particles dissolved into vinegar) to turpentine and ink mixture. Mainly adult women used to blacken their teeth, although some girls as young as 10 years. At a later period of time average women would practice Ohaguro only on extremely special occasions, such as weddings, funerals or Matsuri festivals.
Contrary to what you might think, blackening the teeth actually prevented them from decaying and other dental-related problems. Japanese women would usually apply various substances on their teeth either every single day or once in every few days in order to keep up the black color. One of the less common mixtures involved a powder mix of oyster shell, sulfuric acid, and gallnut powder. Another recipe included a mixture of tooth wax and ink.
The whole idea behind black teeth being considered as attractive originates from the widely spread idea that pitch black objects were thought to be exquisitely beautiful.