Your Encinitas Periodontist Discusses Oral Hygiene Methods Throughout History

Have you ever wondered how people in ancient times cleaned their teeth? You might think that people in primitive civilizations were unaware of the need for oral hygiene. While it is true that modern methods of oral hygiene surpass those of the past, people throughout history acknowledged the importance of a clean mouth. Dr. Ann Kania and our team offer a brief history of oral hygiene.

Oral Hygiene History

  • The earliest version of the toothbrush appeared around 3,500 B.C. in Ancient Babylon. People during this time used twigs called “chew sticks” to clean their teeth. One end of the chew stick was frayed for brushing and the other end was sharpened to clean between teeth.
  • Ancient Egyptians made a rudimentary version of toothpaste using ground pumice and vinegar.
  • In feudal China, people attached boar’s hair to bamboo sticks to clean teeth. Monks in Southeast Asia used a similar method where horse tail was tied to ox bone.
  • Manufactured toothbrushes were not available until the 18th century. William Addis is credited with mass producing the first toothbrush in England.
  • In Western Europe and North America, people made homemade toothpastes from baking soda and hydrogen peroxide.
  • The first toothpastes were sold in powder form. People would dip their wet toothbrushes in the powder to create a paste.
  • Fluoride has been added to toothpaste since 1955. Today, all ADA accepted toothpastes contain fluoride.

Could you imagine using boar’s hair as a toothbrush or having no access to professional oral healthcare? Fortunately, modern oral hygiene methods combined with regular oral health checkups have greatly improved our quality of life. Although we have electric toothbrushes, toothpaste, and dental floss at our disposal, you still need to schedule routine oral examinations and professional cleanings. To reserve an appointment with Dr. Kania, call our Encinitas periodontist office at (760) 642-0711. We serve patients from La Costa, Del Mar, Rancho Santa Fe, Carlsbad, San Diego, and the surrounding communities.