Smiling Through History: Examining Oral Health Before Crowns

When you look at pictures of generations past, the one thing that stands out is their broad, beaming smiles. It’s said that “a smile is worth a thousand words” and looking back in time, it’s clear that folks of old weren’t afraid to put a smiling face forward. But what was the oral health of our ancestors? From ancient Romans to the Aztecs, let’s explore the historical evidence to determine the answer.

Grinning Through the Ages

Ancient Greeks, Romans and Egyptians all had access to various dental treatments and tools for better oral hygiene. Even primitive civilizations like the Celts, Saxons and Vikings used rudimentary toothpicks, combs and brushes made of bone or twigs. Romans even employed toothpaste and a bleach-like substance to whiten teeth. With all the tools available, it’s evident that people in past eras went to extra lengths to make sure they had healthy, good-looking teeth.

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The Bright & Beaming Past

Focusing on the Americas, ancient Aztecs and Mayans also had a variety of treatments and tools for maintaining oral health. Mayans used home-based treatments like a bark paste and strong chewing gum, while Aztecs employed herbal pastes, slaked lime and sand for cleaning and bleaching teeth. In fact, some Aztec rulers even went so far as to have their teeth and jaws decorated with jade stones and gems.

Toothy Tales of Yore

As far back as 400 B.C.E., ancient Greeks and Romans were using tools such as toothpicks, tweezers, and even a primitive version of the dental drill. Today, this drill is known as the ‘bore’, but in the distant past, it was a device made of iron or bronze and used to clean and scrape off plaque. In addition, ancient civilizations across Africa and Asia used various herbs, oils and powders for whitening and freshening breath.

Oral Ailments Around the Globe

Though ancient cultures had a wide range of treatments and tools for maintaining oral health, many still suffered from dental ailments. Toothache, gum diseases and other such afflictions were common, and even the wealthy and powerful were not free from the misery of tooth decay and tooth loss. For example, Queen Elizabeth of England suffered from toothache and lost several teeth during her reign.

The Evolution of Dental Care

As centuries of history demonstrate, people have always gone to great lengths to take care of their teeth. From primitive treatments to modern-day crowns and implants, dental care has come a long way. Today, we have access to a wide range of materials, technologies, and treatments that make it easier to keep our teeth and gums healthy.

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Pre-Crown Smiles of History

Though many cultures had access to treatments, tools and materials to help maintain their oral health, they were still limited by what was available in each era. But one thing is clear: our ancestors weren’t afraid to show off their smiles, even if they weren’t as bright and shiny as today’s. After all, a smile is a timeless expression of joy and hope.

Oral health has been a concern for centuries, but our ancestors still put their best face forward – smiling through history. From ancient civilizations to the present day, people have gone to great lengths to take care of their teeth. Now we have access to modern treatments and technologies that allow us to keep our oral health in check. So, go ahead and give your ancestors a toothy smile of appreciation!