What Did People Use to Brush Their Teeth in Ancient Times?

Brushing teeth is a daily ritual that we all follow without much thought. But have you ever wondered what people used to brush their teeth in ancient times?

Well, the answer is not as simple as you might think. Let’s take a journey back in time and explore some of the fascinating ways our ancestors kept their teeth clean.

Ancient Egyptians

The Ancient Egyptians are famous for their love of hygiene, and they were no strangers to dental care. They used a mixture of crushed pumice stone and vinegar to scrub their teeth clean. This abrasive mixture was applied using a frayed twig or a small brush made from animal hair.

Ancient Greeks and Romans

The Ancient Greeks and Romans were also known for taking good care of their teeth. They used a mixture of ash, crushed bones, and oyster shells to create an abrasive paste that was applied using a cloth or sponge. The wealthy would even use ivory or silver toothpicks to remove any remaining food particles.

Medieval Europe

In Medieval Europe, dental care was not a top priority, and people’s teeth suffered as a result. The common method for cleaning teeth during this period was to rub them with rough cloth or linen dipped in saltwater or urine!

Yes, you read that right – urine! It turns out that urine contains ammonia which has antibacterial properties.

17th Century China

In 17th century China, people used chew sticks made from aromatic woods such as cinnamon or tea tree to freshen their breath and clean their teeth. These sticks were often decorated with intricate carvings.

The Modern Toothbrush

The modern toothbrush as we know it today was invented in 1938 by Dupont de Nemours, who created the first nylon bristle toothbrush. Before this, toothbrushes were made from animal hair or feathers. Today, toothbrushes come in a variety of shapes, sizes, and colors, and are readily available to everyone.


In conclusion, our ancestors used a wide range of methods to keep their teeth clean and healthy. From crushed pumice stones to chew sticks made from aromatic woods, they were always looking for new ways to maintain good oral hygiene.

And while some of these methods seem strange and even unhygienic by today’s standards, they were still effective in their own way. So the next time you brush your teeth with your modern toothbrush, take a moment to appreciate how far dental care has come!