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Van Buskirk's Fragrant Sozodont Bottle

The hundreds of health and hygiene bottles recovered from the SS Republic include thirty-seven bottles of Van Buskirk's Fragrant Sozodont, all of which were found empty. The invention of the New Jersey druggist Roswell Van Buskirk, advertisements claimed the formula would clean and preserve the teeth and harden the gums" as well as "impart a delightfully refreshing taste and feeling to the mouth." In addition, promotional material touted, "it prevents the accumulation of tartar on the teeth and arrests the progress of decay."

"Recommended by the most prominent physicians, chemists, dentists, and scientific gentlemen of all sections of the country, Van Buskirk's Fragrant Sozodont was made in both liquid and powder form. The latter was dispensed from the glass bottle through a metal sprinkler and then applied to a toothbrush. The powder is said to have contained orris root, carbonate of calcium, and magnesia; while the liquid's ingredients included castile soap (soap made exclusively from vegetable oil), glycerin, water and alcohol, and for flavoring, a small quantity of oil of peppermint, clover, cinnamon, and star anise, as well as cochineal for coloring (a dye made from an insect of the same name).

By the early 20th century, the Sozodont had fallen out of favor with many consumers amid concerns about side effects of its usage. Dentists claimed "The liquid of Sozodont is far too alkaline for general use, and would in time destroy the enamel of the teeth and make them yellow."

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