Dental Blog


Four Astonishing Substitutes for Oral Hygiene Products Used Around the World

1) Crushed Bones and Oyster Shells as Toothpaste –


At the time of the Greek and Roman civilizations, Colgate and Crest weren’t around. But, the Greeks and Romans were still very concerned about oral hygiene, so they went ahead and invented their own toothpaste. They knew that a toothpaste had to be abrasive to get any cleaning done, so they figured crushed bones and oyster shells would do the trick.



For Romans, crushing bones is always the answer.


However, getting a mouthful of bone shards and jagged oyster shells does not sound very pleasant, and we can’t imagine it would make anyone’s breath smell better.


2) Tree Twigs as Toothbrushes


Many societies in the world have never seen what you would call a toothbrush, but these cultures still need to brush their teeth, obviously. So, instead of plastic colourful wands, these people just snap off a tree branch and jam it in their mouth and hope for the best.



Trees – Good for everything if you try hard enough.

In African and Muslim cultures, they use all sorts of trees, such as the mango, cashew, and coconut trees, which actually doesn’t sound that bad. Some of these tribes use a special stick called the miswak stick, which actually has high concentrations of cavity-fighting fluoride. This is pretty incredible, because it’s not like these tribes have laboratories to test the molecular composition of trees.


2) Smashed Brick and Charcoal Powder as Toothpaste –

In some areas of the world like Africa, southeast Asia, and South America, people do not have access to stores that sell oral hygiene products, and they also don’t have access to money to buy said products. So again, they went all Mcgyver and starting using materials from their environment to clean their teeth. Materials like bricks and charcoal.


And some kids complain about brushing their teeth with a toothbrush.


As intelligent and resourceful as these people may be, researchers have unsurprisingly discovered that brushing your teeth with bricks is not good for you.


3) Mud, Salt, and Ash as Mouthwash


In places like India, many people don’t have the means to acquire advanced oral hygiene products. So the level of technology and sophistication in their mouth-cleaning tools is substantially reduced, and they use things such as mud, salt, and ash to clean their mouth.



It’s like the Buckley’s effect, except it tastes awful and doesn’t work.


We are not exactly sure of the benefits of filling your mouth with salt and ash are, but we are pretty sure there isn’t any. We are sure of this because some studies have shown that using harsh materials like this may result in gingival recession and dentin sensitivity. So tonight when you brush your teeth, take a moment to appreciate the delicious minty gel of your toothpaste, and how it isn’t a tree branch with oyster shells and mud on it.

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