RUDIMENTARY DENTAL EXTRACTIONS were performed in China as early as 6,000 BC, and there is also evidence that they used wires to stabilize teeth. They didn’t seem to be very interested in straightening teeth, but they were quite advanced when it came to treating endodontic problems.
Treating Toothaches in the Tang Dynasty
In 618 AD, Emperor Gaozu of the Tang Dynasty fell victim to a toothache. He consulted with his tooth doctor for relief, and his recommendation for treating toothaches was a dental filling made of melted silver and tin. European dentists wouldn’t catch up until over a thousand years later! Talk about advanced dental care!
Daily Dental Hygiene in Ancient China
The typical oral hygiene routine for a person in ancient China was to gargle salt water or tea. It became common in the Tang dynasty to soak a willow twig in water before bed and chew on it in the morning. The willow fibers would protrude like a comb and scrub the teeth clean. That’s where the Chinese idiom “chew wood at dawn” comes from.
Wait… They Had Toothbrushes Too?
Some people from that period had access to toothbrushes made of animal bone and hair. They also had an early form of toothpaste made from boiling honey locust fruit, ginger, foxglove, lotus leaves, and other herbs to reduce gum inflammation, ease toothaches, and whiten the teeth.
When Thinking About Toothpaste, people have used some form of paste to help keep their teeth clean since at least 3000 BC in ancient Egypt. Modern toothpaste first appeared in the 1700s and was usually homemade. A dentist first added soap to dental paste in 1824, and John Harris added chalk in the 1850s. 20 years later, Colgate began mass-producing toothpaste in jars.
These interesting facts from so many different cultures have played a very important role in the dental care that we receive today. Dentistry is one of the oldest medical professions and we have these Ancient cultures to thank for paving the way!