The term "Dark Ages" comes from the Latin saeculum obscurum, first used to describe the Medieval Period by Cesare Baronius in 1602. Like most intellectuals of his day, he regarded the Medieval Period -- roughly 500-1500 AD -- as a period of darkness and obscurity, largely due to the (in his day) relative lack of documentary sources from which a historian could work.
People in the Middle Ages considered healthy, white teeth a sign of beauty and wrote of sweet smelling breath as a desirable attribute. So, not surprisingly, we have extensive evidence that people liked to keep their teeth clean and a large amount of evidence of tooth pastes, powders and treatments, as well as mouth washes and treatments for halitosis.
The idea that people routinely emptied chamberpots out windows into the street is one of the images of the past that has been taught to generations of school children. It's usually said to have been done in the Middle Ages and it's an image that has stuck with many people, particularly because we find it so disgusting. Unfortunately, like many popular ideas about the Middle Ages, it's largely nonsense.
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