A Brief History of Keeping Teeth Clean


When you wake up in the morning and prepare for bed at night, hopefully you reach for your toothbrush and toothpaste for a few moments of quality time with your teeth. As you walk out of a restaurant, you may reach for a toothpick to dislodge troublesome food particles clinging between your teeth. For any and every dental concern, large or small, there is an appliance to suit our needs. In case you’ve ever wondered how the hygiene tools you rely on came to be, we explore a brief history of ways humans used to clean teeth in the past.

Cleaning Teeth with Sticks

The stick-like appearance of a common toothbrush may not be a coincidence—some of the earliest forms of tooth care involved the use of one. The Babylonians are typically accredited as the first to chew and gnaw on sticks to keep their teeth clean. The Chinese adopted the idea, yet shortened the stick and added a sharp point to use as a toothpick.

Dental Abrasives

The effectiveness of dental abrasives for teeth cleaning and whitening has long been known. Today, the most common abrasive in dental products is baking soda, which promotes good oral health by keeping teeth clean and neutralizing harmful acids in the mouth. In the past, the ingredients that served this purpose included crushed oyster shells, bones, oxen hooves, and eggshells.

Tongue Cleaners

Not many people would think about their tongues first when they think about the elements of healthy teeth. However, the tongue houses the majority of oral bacteria that cause bad breath, and decaying bacteria on the tongue are suspected of being major contributors to many serious health issues. The societies of India and Russia in the 1800s understood the importance of the tongue, and they created tongue scrapers made of silver, ivory, and other precious materials. Today, we recommend settling for a plastic one, which can be found at your local pharmacy.

Keep Your Teeth Clean with Help from Your Dentist

Keeping your teeth clean has long been a part of human history and is still a primary need for maintaining a healthy and beautiful smile for life! To schedule a teeth cleaning appointment, call Keelan Dental in Butler, PA, today at (724) 285-4153. Our Smile Certified experts happily serve patients from Butler, Cranberry Township, Mars, Pittsburgh, Butler County, and all surrounding communities.