Fun Facts About Ancient Dental Practices

Two rows of colorful toothbrushes

A whole lot has changed in the world of dentistry since its origins back in ancient times. We’ve wrangled up some interesting facts about old-timey dental practices to give you an idea of how far we’ve come. Let’s just say, we appreciate our trusty toothbrush and toothpaste a whole lot more after hearing about how things used to be done!

Tooth Worms or Cavities?

We know that holes in teeth are called cavities and that they are caused by decay. But years and years ago, people believed that tooth worms were the culprit. How does the thought of a little worm burrowing its way into your teeth sound? Probably a bit gross! In order to handle such mysterious (and annoying) tooth worms, people employed a few different tactics. These included everything from heated probes and extractions, to rituals and spells. Nothing like a little voodoo to eliminate tooth pain?!

Creative Recipes for Toothpaste

It should come as no surprise that our minty-fresh tubes of toothpaste are a modern invention. Back before we had shelves of options, people had to get creative with the ingredients to clean their teeth. There’s evidence of ash, crushed eggshells, crushed bones, ox hooves, oyster shells, and flowers all being used in toothpaste mixtures. The earliest known recipe for toothpaste does include mint though! It’s from an ancient Egyptian papyrus and lists mint, rock salt, iris flower, and pepper as ingredients.

Sticks Instead of Brushes

Before bristled brushes there were bristled sticks. These sticks or twigs had a frayed end used to clean teeth. The ancient Babylonians are the first ones on record to have them. However, other ancient civilizations, including the Egyptians, Chinese, Greeks, and Romans used them too.

Primitive Fillings

The materials we use for dental fillings may be different, but we didn’t invent them! Surprisingly, the practice has been around for a very long time. The Aztecs used a mixture of iron, water, and lint to seal their cavities. And even more amazing, a tooth from 13,000 years ago found in Tuscany was filled with a combination of hair, vegetable fibers, and bitumen. That last item is a sticky oil derivative that’s used today to resurface roads. Pretty sure that the ancients would have chosen our tooth-colored fillings instead of paving material!

Modern Care at Sunshine Pediatric Dentistry

Want some up-to-date tips on dental care? The Sunshine Pediatric Dentistry team in San Antonio, TX has you covered. Our office is full of the latest in dental technology. Plus our team uses tried and true techniques and procedures to make your child’s office visit as comfortable as possible. You can count on us to know the best ways to take care of your family’s smile.

Modern technology helps us make your child's visit comfortable and worry free!