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History of Oral Hygiene – How the Pilgrims beat Gingivitis
May 27th, 2014 by Dr. Watson

With modern advances in dental medicine and the careful attention that Jackson residents pay to their dental hygiene, it is hard to imagine what life for teeth was like when the pilgrims first landed on these shores. We at Jackson Center for Smiles would like to share with you how our roots took care of their roots, so we can appreciate just how far dental care has come in the hundreds of years since.

How did the Pilgrims take care of their teeth?

We’d love to tell you that the earliest settlers had excellent oral hygiene routines and their own version of Dr. Watson, but that just isn’t the case. In fact, dental hygiene was so bad that proper toothbrushes and toothpaste had yet to be invented in England or America, and would stay that way for a few more centuries.

So how did they clean their teeth? Across the pond in England, dental medicine was a young science, but the pilgrims lived rugged lives without the amenities regular English folks could count on. Starting from scratch in a brand new land, the pilgrims improvised. Since toothbrushes and toothpaste (and forget about floss) were nonexistent, people got rid of plaque using the everyday objects they were familiar with. These included items such as sticks, bones, feathers, and even salt, according to some historians. It may sound rather unpleasant to us, but that was all they knew.

How did the Native Americans take care of their teeth?

Most likely, they had much better dental hygiene than the pilgrims. As the continent’s only established inhabitants, they had the advantage of familiarity with their home and the resources it provided. For example, northeastern tribes rubbed their teeth with sage and other herbs in much the same way we use toothbrushes. Other tribes used the cucacua plant to make a toothpaste-like substance.

Today, the toothbrush is king.

Now that you know how people used to clean their teeth, flossing and brushing seems wonderful, doesn’t it? Today we have advances in dental care technology to thank for electric toothbrushes, pressurized water cleaning systems, whitening gels and strips, and mouthwash that can adjust the pH of your saliva to inhibit bacterial growth. No Jackson resident will ever have to use a mouthful of sage or a dirty stick to clean their teeth again. If you have any questions about how to use your dental health products don’t hesitate to call Dr. Watson today!

Sources

http://www.scholastic.com/teachers/article/life-plimoth-john-howland-pilgrim

http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2009/05/090518-jeweled-teeth-picture.html

http://grinnellstdental.com/2011/11/how-did-pilgrims-brush-their-teeth/http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dentistry#History