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Our mouths help keep us alive, and happy. We eat and drink the delicious stuff, we talk, kiss, and do a host of other things with our mouths. Unsurprisingly then, oral hygiene is right up there on the list of daily concerns, and rightly so. Here are 15 things you may or may not have known about a clean and healthy mouth:
  1. The first toothbrush, as we have all figured out at one point or the other, was the human index finger. Probably all of us have tried brushing with it at some stage in our childhood when we couldn’t find a toothbrush.
  2. Chewing sticks, which we have used in Africa for countless centuries, have also been used in China from around 1600 BC. Like us, they had regular ones and special ones which were both aromatic and medicinal.
  3. The Chinese developed the first actual toothbrush, using horse-tail hair. Napoleon Bonaparte was said to have used horsehair toothbrushes.
  4. William Addis made the first mass-produced toothbrush in 1870, while in prison for causing a riot. He made holes in a small bone, and pulled some hair bristles into it, using glue as a stay. It worked well, and when he got out of prison he started a highly successful toothbrush company, known today as Wisdom Toothbrushes.
  5. The first company to sell packaged toothbrushes was the Florence Manufacturing Company.
  6. Tooth powders for use with toothbrushes went mainstream in Britain in the 19th century, mostly made with salt, chalk, and ground bricks. However, they had been in use in Egypt since 5000 BC, where they were made of pumice, myrrh, burnt eggshells, and the ashes of burnt ox hooves. The Greeks and Romans upgraded the Egyptian tooth powders by adding crushed bones and oyster shells.
  7. Dr. Sheffield, a respected dentist and dental surgeon of his time, also had his own modern tooth powder brand, Dr. Sheffield’s Tooth Powder. Tubed toothpaste took over when Dr. Sheffield’s son travelled to Paris and saw painters using paint from collapsible tubes. An idea was formed, and so Dr. Sheffield’s Crème Dentrifice was born in 1880. Colgate followed in 1896 with the Colgate and Company Dental Cream.
  8. The sticky, colourless deposit you find on your teeth and parts of your mouth before you brush, is actually a mass of bacteria called dental plaque. If left to harden, it becomes tartar, which is yellow or brown and usually lodges between the teeth, on the front of teeth, behind teeth, on chewing surfaces, along the gumline, etc. Tartar cannot be removed by brushing, professional cleaning is required.
  9. Medium to soft bristles are advisable as the hard ones may clean teeth and prevent plaque better, but can also hurt the gums. If using soft, extend your brushing time.
  10. Brushing should be done at least twice daily, morning and night, to prevent plaque buildup.
  11. For brushing after a meal, particularly after acidic food or drinks, it is advisable to wait 30 minutes.
  12. You should never, ever share a toothbrush.
  13. Certain foods clean your teeth when you chew them. Eating lots of fibrous foods cleans your teeth and prevents plaque from developing. This cleaning activity is one reason apples are highly recommended.
  14. Sugar ruins your teeth. Dental cavities are at an all-time high in our day because of extreme exposure to sugary foods.
  15. The fizzy, carbonated drinks that we love so much wear away teeth enamel and actually lead to weakening and demineralization of our teeth! On the other hand, regular consumption of green tea promotes healthy teeth and gums, and can reduce your chances of tooth decay, gum disease and even oral cancer. Choose wisely!
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This article was first published on 20th March 2018


Joy Ehonwa is an editor and a writer who is passionate about relationships and personal development. She runs Pinpoint Creatives, a proofreading, editing, transcription and ghostwriting service. Email: pinpointcreatives [at]

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