The History of Plaque Removal by Toothbrushing

Posted .

Calcified tartar, evidence of plaque, has been found on Neanderthal tooth fossils from 50,000 years ago. While we don’t know if the first cavemen did anything about it at that time, the evolution of the toothbrush starts here. Presupposing that early man eventually determined that it was to his advantage attracting a mate to remove the ugly film from his teeth, the first method was to chew on and scrub them with a stick.

The type of brushing/chewing stick used from different plants varies from culture to culture around the world. Many of them contain antimicrobial properties which furthered the benefits. Then, as the hypothesis goes, seeing and feeling an improvement in oral comfort, early man continues the habit and tooth brushing technology advances with the addition of an abrasive material. Possibly by accident, some sand grit got into the brush and there was a noticeable improvement.

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.

Toothpastes continued to progress with the addition of soaps and detergents–still an important ingredient today and the reason why nearly every kind of toothpaste foams. The modern age of toothpaste production, starting in the 1900s, gave us chemicals such as fluoride in various iterations. The 1970s brought in a desensitizer, and the latest major additive from the 90s is an antimicrobial.

While other additions 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 of their teeth, we still see that brushing is the best way to remove plaque.

Dr. Damon Thompson would be delighted to be your dentists. If we can help you in any way, please contact Real Life Dental at: 540-552-5433, or drop by in Blacksburg, Virginia.