Tag Archives: Invented in China

What did we do before we had toothbrushes?

4 Oct

Sometimes we get an answer before we have the question.  That is what happened when I reviewed Backyard Medicine, Harvest and Make Your Own Herbal Remedies by Julie Bruton-Seal and Matthew Seal.  On page 123, they share that oak twigs are nature’s tooth-brush due to natural antiseptic and anti-inflammatory properties.  They encourage picking a small twig, chewing the end to massage gums as well as clean your teeth.

This week I trimmed low branches of my oak trees and these fun facts came to mind.

Tooth brush anyone?

Tooth brush anyone?

Imagine…before we had our billion dollar toothbrush industry we had oak twigs.  I suppose that also explains the wooden picks that predate today’s flossing options.

Historical perspective:

How the rest of the world brushes their teeth | MNN – Mother Nature Network


1498 – “The bristle toothbrush was invented in China. Coarse hairs taken from the back of a hog’s neck were used for the bristles, attached at right angles to a bone or bamboo handle (similar to the modern type). The best bristles came from hogs raised in the colder climates of China and Siberia, where the animals grew stouter and firmer hair. Since 3000 BC, ancient civilizations had been cleaning teeth with a “chew-stick” by using a thin twig with a frayed end.”

Have you tried this?

The twigs are the solution to minimize environmental impact, but not likely for superior dental health.