We have come a long way since oral health practices began! Here, we’ll share some interesting facts about ancient dental techniques utilizing toothpaste, teeth straightening, and dentures.
The Egyptians were believed to be the first people to use something like toothpaste to clean their teeth, sometime around 5000 BC, while the Greeks, Romans, Chinese, and Indians began mixing tooth powders around 500 BC. These rudimentary tooth-cleaning concoctions were not much like what is today smeared morning and night on our modern toothbrushes with nylon bristles. Early tooth powder ingredients depended on the preferences of its creators. For example, the Romans and Greeks often used crushed-up oyster shells and bones for an abrasive texture, the Romans utilized charcoal and bark, and the Chinese incorporated salt, ginseng, and herbal mint for more breath-freshening power.
Teeth straightening hasn’t only been performed in modern times! It actually dates way back to ancient philosophers and doctors, although our techniques are dramatically more effective today. Hippocrates, Aristotle, and a Roman physician named Aulus Cornelius Celsus each wrote about how to fix crooked teeth, with Celsus claiming that you could treat crooked teeth by moving the tooth into position with your finger. The Egyptians took a different approach, wrapping gold or metal bands around their teeth in an effort to close gaps in teeth. Mummies have even been discovered with a cord made of animal intestines affixed to their teeth. Then there are the Etruscans, who put a dental device onto their deceased relatives to prevent their teeth from moving when they progressed into the afterlife after burial.
The first known evidence of false teeth can be traced back to 2500 BC in Mexico, where they made dentures out of wolf teeth. Not exactly your grandma’s dentures… unless you are Little Red Riding Hood! All the better to eat with, eh? Fast forward to Italy in 700 BC, where the powerful and wealthy Etruscans attached animal teeth with bands and gold wires to make a crude type of denture. This technique even made its way to Rome by 500 BC. Two false teeth made of bone were also found in an Egyptian tomb.
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