Modern advancements in technology have brought us inventions to help keep our teeth clean. But don’t be naive— it hasn’t always been this good. Early ancestors used a noxious weed as a toothbrush.
Weed as a toothbrush
People who lived in Sudan 2,000 years ago ate the purple nutsedge, a kind of noxious or unpleasant weed. Those people had surprisingly sound teeth and scientists at Italy’s Center for Sudanese and Sub-Saharan Studies may have found the reason why.he antibacterial properties of the weed may deserve the credit, scientists say in a study published in the journal
It turns out, the antibacterial properties of the purple nutsedge may deserve the credit. Analysis of hardened bits of plaque on the teeth showed the early Sudanese people had eaten the tubers of the purple nutsedge, possibly as food or medicine.
Experiments show that extracts of the weed inhibit the growth of bacteria that causes tooth decay. This weed could have served as both a nutritious dinner and an early dental hygiene instrument.
Our Early Ancestors Knew How To Eat
People that had healthy teeth in history didn’t have them because they brushed and flossed every day. The reasons are more dietary in nature. Peasants in medieval ages were too poor to eat foods doused in sauces and sugary sweets— they had to rely on raw vegetables, which must be chewed thoroughly to safely swallow. This type of extensive chewing is known to reduce the risk of cavities.
Then humans invented farming and began eating more grain. Bacteria in the human mouth flourished, pouring out acids that eat away at the teeth. The first farmers tended to have much more tooth decay than hunter-gatherers did. As the need for a cleaner mouth increased, so did advancements in modern dentistry.
Modern dentistry is awesome
What would you do without proper dental care? Today you have a toothbrush and toothpaste. You have an endless amount of floss or if you are a bit more flashy—a water pick. You have 15 different types of mouthwash at your disposal, each with a unique berry mint flavor.
You have the ability to see a dentist multiple times throughout the year. During your visit, your teeth are cleaned by a professional dental hygienist. X-rays are administered to catch early tooth decay before it causes a bigger problem.
The Lesson Here: Don’t take modern dentistry for granted.