Five Things People in the Past Used as Toothbrushes

ToothbrushBefore the invention of the toothbrush, ancient people had to be creative with how they cleaned their teeth. With the invention of agriculture came the introduction of sugar in the human diet, which led to tooth decay.

Even the ancients knew that brushing your teeth regularly is important to keep the mouth healthy. Aesthetic Smiles, a dental practice in Leicester, suggests that you use a soft bristled toothbrush, brushing twice to thrice a day.

People in the past did not have the luxury of gentle, soft bristled toothbrushes. They often had to make do with other things to scrub the plaque off their teeth.

  1. Purple Nutsedge

At an archaeological dig site, scientists discovered that Mesolithic humans ate purple nutsedge to clean their teeth. These prehistoric Sudanese humans ate the weed as food, but it also prevented tooth decay.

  1. Rough cloth

Many ancient humans used a rough cloth to clean their teeth, simply rubbing the fabric over their teeth to get rid of debris.

  1. Salt or chalk

Salt has always been popular for use in debridement. Ancient humans rubbed salt or crushed chalk onto their teeth to clean them. Unfortunately, these also scratched the enamel as they were too hard and rough.

  1. Crushed shell and bone

Similar to how salt and chalk were used, people in the past also crushed oyster shells or bone to scrub their teeth.

  1. Twigs

The ancient Egyptians would snap twigs in two and use the resulting edge as a makeshift toothbrush. The ancient Chinese, on the other hand, chewed on twigs to clean their teeth and to freshen their breath.

The toothbrush is a wonderful invention that we take for granted. The soft bristles are perfect for removing plaque without damaging the enamel. Makeshift toothbrushes in the past were too rough and did more damage than good.