Plaque: Toothbrushing Through Time

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50,000-year-old Neanderthal tooth fossils show signs of plaque, calcified tartar. While we don’t know exactly if ancient man did anything about it at that time, the evolution of the toothbrush begins here.

We can imagine that early man, in order to gain a mate, wisely decided it was to his advantage to clean his teeth. The first attempt at toothbrushing was to chew on a stick and scrub the teeth vigorously. The type of brushing/chewing stick used from different plants changes from people to people all over the world. Many of these sticks had antimicrobial properties which increased the beneficial qualities.

Then, as the story goes, feeling a definite improvement, early man persisted and tooth brushing technology evolved with the inclusion of an abrasive material. Possibly by accident, some sort of grit entered into the brush and there was a noticeable improvement in the procedure. Eventually, people used wine crystals and crushed bone particles to clean their teeth. Even today’s toothpaste contains such fine abrasives as silica, chalk, and sand.

Toothpaste technology continues to advance with soaps and detergents–still an important ingredient today and the reason why toothpaste foams.

In the 1900s, the modern age of toothpaste creation begins. This is when chemicals such as fluoride enter into the mix. A few types of fluoride are invented with various iterations of toothpaste. The 1970s brought in a desensitizer, and the latest major additive from the 90s was an antimicrobial.

While other additives can be found in specialty toothpastes, most all of them have these same ingredients in common. Years after the first man and woman started brushing the film off their teeth, we still see that brushing is the best way to remove plaque.

Dr. Claire Black would be delighted to be your dentist, and give you the best clean you need for your teeth with a dental exam and cleaning. If we can help you in any way, please contact Hendersonville Dentistry at 828-692-3933, or drop by in Hendersonville, North Carolina.