6 Ancient Tooth Facts

When someone tells you to brush your teeth, probably one of the first things that you think about is a tooth brush. But, the toothbrush has been around for a surprisingly short amount of time. We’ve put together a short list of facts about the history of teeth and oral hygiene.

It's a real skull of human. Photo 2006.

  1. The first toothbrushes were invented in China. The bristles of these first toothbrushes were made from the stiff hair of pigs, horses and badgers.
  2. The first toothbrush to be made of all synthetic materials was first manufactured in 1938. When synthetic material became available in 1938, Dupont de Nemours created the first toothbrush to include nylon bristles instead of bristles made of animal hair.
  3. The dental profession did not start until late in history. Before there were dentists, you would visit whatever guy had the right tools to fix your toothache. That often meant visiting the blacksmith to get a filling.
  4. The Romans, known for their advanced technology for moving water and industrialization, were also great dentists. Ancient skulls have been found to contain cavity-filled teeth that have been fixed with gold crowns. The Romans even made a natural toothpaste from honey and eggshells.
  5. As part of promoting wealth, Mayan royalty would drill small holes into their teeth and have precious stones, such as jade, inlaid. The jade stone was symbolic of agricultural prosperity and was a visible promise from the royalty to the people that everyone would be taken care of.
  6. Before there were nylon bristles, even before there were toothbrushes made with boar hair, there were chewing sticks. Popular in the Ayurvedic culture, chewing sticks are used to clean teeth. As the person chews on the stick, the ends fray making it a combination toothbrush and floss at the same time. Specific sticks, such as neem, are often used because of their antimicrobial properties.

Here you can read about some teeth myths.

Humans have always been interested in taking care of their health and the health of those they loved. When we figured out that something could make us sick or unhealthy, we found a way to prevent it. Oral hygiene is not a new idea. We hope you enjoyed these ancient tooth facts. Don’t forget, brush and floss twice a day for two minutes each time.

About Mark C. Marchbanks, D.D.S.

Dr. Mark Marchbanks has practiced dentistry in Arlington Texas since 1983. He enjoys caring for patients young and old. You can find Dr. Marchbanks on
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If it's been more than 6 months since your last teeth cleaning, give us a call today to schedule your check-up.