How did people clean their teeth in the past? How in these days the tooth decay was faced?

  • 6
    Why could not Greek and Romans wash their teeth in exactly the same way that we do? (As a child in a developing country, I washed my teeth with a chalk powder, and always thought that people do this since the time immemorial:-) Concerning the forensic evidence on the teeth decay, I suppose it increased dramatically with the spread of sugar approximately in 13th century.
    – Alex
    Mar 20, 2015 at 22:54
  • 5
    The Embarrassment of Riches: An Interpretation of Dutch Culture in the Golden Age nicely points out at one point the epidemic of tooth decay that arose in 16th century Netherlands due to the availability of cheap sugar, as well as its relative scarcity previously. Mar 21, 2015 at 3:07
  • Powdered mouse brains were used by Romans.
    – Jake W
    Apr 21, 2015 at 12:19

1 Answer 1


A general practice, even among very primitive people, is to use twigs. If you gnaw on a twig, its end will fray; then you can use the frayed end as a sort of a brush. If you ever do a lot of camping, you learn this very fast.

Ancient Romans used tooth powder such as pumice or very fine sand and linen cloth. They also used various cleansers and astringents like vinegar. Another popular cleaner was urine.


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