How Did We Brush Our Teeth in the Past?

Brushing our teeth is essential to maintaining excellent oral health. The process is very straightforward — you squeeze a pea-size amount of quality toothpaste onto your trusty toothbrush, then brush your teeth in upward and downward motions, making sure to clean the front, back, and roof of your mouth, as well as your tongue. You then gargle to rinse off the toothpaste, then finish off by flossing and gargling with mouthwash. Ideally, this should be done at least twice a day or after every meal.

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Much like us, our ancestors were very particular about oral health; they wanted to keep their teeth clean and healthy, too. Unfortunately for them, they did not have toothbrushes, dental floss, and mouthwash, much less toothpaste. They had to make do with what was available to them, such as rough cloth and water to clean their teeth. To get rid of the grime, they would rub salt and chalk across their teeth. Another tool they used was the end of a twig split in the end to resemble a brush.

While modern toothpaste is completely safe, our ancestors used ingredients to formulate a toothpaste-like substance using ingredients that no one in his right mind would use nowadays. These ingredients include powdered burnt eggshells mixed with the ashes of ox hooves.

The Ancient Chinese Way

The ancient Chinese were very serious about keeping their teeth clean and breaths fresh. They brewed strong tea thickly, which they used to rinse their mouths after a meal. The tea removes grease and food particles that cling to the teeth after eating. They also developed a toothpaste-like substance by brewing poria fungus until it resembled the texture of paste, then applied it to the teeth using their fingers. They also chewed on willow branch twigs soaked in water because its fibers would protrude like a fine tooth comb, resembling a toothbrush. They would then use these twigs to clean their teeth.

The Chinese can also be credited for the creation of the earliest prototype of the modern toothbrush. They devised a natural-bristle toothbrush circa the 1400s using bristles from pigs’ necks, attached to a handle made of either bone or bamboo.

The Evolution of the Toothbrush

The first toothbrush that closely resembles what we use today was made in England in the 1770s by William Addis, who came up with the idea while he was incarcerated. Finding the rag he was given for cleaning his teeth inadequate, he saved a small bone from a meal, put tiny holes in it, and used glue to attach pig bristles procured from a correctional officer.

The first patent for a toothbrush was awarded to an American, H.N. Wadsworth, in 1857. When nylon was invented in the 1930s, the toothbrush finally evolved into a design that is similar to the one being used today. After World War II, Americans started brushing their teeth regularly, and within the next few years, the toothpaste was invented, followed by the mouthwash.

How are your teeth doing today?

Excessive bacteria buildup in your mouth can lead to bad breath and various dental problems, but you can usually keep this at bay by practicing present oral hygiene practices. But if your teeth have accumulated too much tartar over several months of neglect, it may be time to get professional help from Kyrene Family Dentistry. Call us today or fill out our online form to schedule a teeth-cleaning service.