Ancient Dental Hygiene: Toothbrushes and Toothpastes
We take the modern toothbrush and toothpaste for granted. Our dental hygiene now isn’t a far cry from what our ancestors used. We now have smooth and clean bristles on our toothbrushes and clean toothpaste. Ever wondered how people cleaned their teeth in ancient times?
The oldest version of a toothbrush was known as a “chewing stick”. Stick chewing may be contrary to what we’ve come to known as dental hygiene but they were quite effective. In Babylon, people would chew on twigs until they became fibrous and shredded. This formed the twig into a “brush” which they used to scrub their teeth. Sometimes these twigs would have natural antiseptic properties or fluoride. There are still some people who still chew sticks for dental hygiene.
Boar and Horse Bristle
The Chinese invented something very similar to the modern toothbrushes during the 15th century. They used the bristles of a boar and used an adhesive to stick it onto a bone or bamboo handle. These bristles came from the back of the boar’s neck. These boar bristle toothbrushes functioned like modern ones only they were still a bit unsanitary and tough on the gums. The Europeans borrowed the concept but instead of tough boar hair, they used softer horse hair which proved to be softer on the teeth and gums. Not everybody switched over to horse hair toothbrushes because horses were and still are very expensive.
Cloths and Sponges
During the Medieval era, people were more worried about not dying of plague than having a set of pearly whites. However, there were a few who cleaned their teeth by using a cloth or sponge dipped in a mixture of oils and salt. This was a precursor to the salt and water mouth wash.
Surprisingly, salt is very effective at killing bacteria. Salt dehydrates the bacteria in the mouth.
The Egyptians had one of the best toothpaste recipes available until modern toothpaste was invented. This mixture contained rock salt, mint, dried Iris flowers and pepper. They would crush the ingredients and mix it with saliva before applying it to their teeth. An Australian Dentist tried this mixture for himself and found that it was very effective except for the fact that it made the gums bleed.
Another toothpaste recipe from the 18th century was made out of alum, cinnamon and dragon’s blood. As awesome or disgusting as this may sound, dragons don’t exist so it makes you wonder what they used as a substitute.
Today’s toothbrushes use plastic handles and nylon bristles making them easy to mass produce and more affordable. There are all sorts of toothbrushes out there from electric ones, smart ones which tell you which area needs brushing and singing toothbrushes that make dental hygiene more enjoyable for children.
Do Toothbrush Brands matter?
It’s natural for people to want the best for their dental hygiene. Usually, a toothbrush with soft bristles would be better but at the end of the day, it doesn’t matter which toothbrush brand you buy but how you use it.Leave a reply →