What Did They Use? The History of Dental Hygiene

Do you remember the process you went through to find your favorite tooth brush and tooth paste? Do you recall ruling out bad textures, bad tastes, and tooth brushes that still left your teeth feeling slimy and unclean? Take a minute to think about what it must have been like for your parents when they were little. Now think about your grandparents. Now think about your great-grandparents. It wasn’t too long ago that using a stiff-bristled brush with powder-form baking soda was the preferred means of getting your teeth clean. We’ve come a long way from there, but haven’t you ever wondered just what on earth  people were brushing with before then?

Some of the first historical representations of something resembling a toothbrush come from ancient Babylonia; where people would chew down the end of a stick and use the then-chewed-up wood as bristles for the rest of their teeth. The Chinese later developed some sort of a bristled brush, which were actually twigs from aromatic trees, to attempt to clean their teeth sometime around 1600 BCE. Later, Arab innovators (also known for inventing the number “0”) were known to chew on twigs and roots from the Arak tree because of the species’ antiseptic qualities. Later again in history, the Chinese developed a toothbrush with horse or ox hair inserted through bone handles. Though the device caught on throughout China and Europe, oftentimes a family could only afford one per household that they would all share. Talk about family ties!

The design of the toothbrush progressed further still in 18th century England to include stiff bristles obtained from pigs to replace the previous tooth-cleaning method: a rag on one’s finger and a bit of soot. It wasn’t till the mid 1800’s that toothbrushes were being mass-marketed throughout the civilized countries of that period, but brushes still contained bristles made from animal hair. Nylon bristles weren’t an option on toothbrushes till around World War II; which is also around the same time that brushing one’s teeth on frequent basis was considered standard practice in society and the military.

Taking a walk down the toothbrush and toothpaste aisles of your local grocery store, the options can nearly you knock you over! These days, you can get a toothbrush in any style, size, color, or cartoon character theme. Toothpastes run the gamut of flavors, fluoride levels, and whitening agents. As you pick out your next selections, whether they are electric or cotton-candy flavored, take a little time to think about what options were available to your grandparents’ generation and beyond.

Do you have a favorite toothpaste flavor? Did one of your favorite toothpastes get discontinued? Tell us your story!

Gingivitis – What is it, and what can I do to prevent it?

When brushing your teeth, are you experiencing any pain or discomfort? Do you notice a little bit of pink in the sink? If this is occurring, you might take a peek at your gums; looking closely at your gum line. If your gums are bleeding or appear red and inflamed more than usual, there’s a decent chance you’re suffering from Gingivitis.

It sounds pretty bad, right? Well, while it is something you want to get taken care of, Gingivitis is a non-destructive periodontal disease that results in the inflammation of the gums surrounding the teeth. Gingivitis is a bacterial infection of the gums that can be caused by a decreased immune system due to a separate ailment, but most of the time results from a build-up of excess plaque along the gum line. Dental plaque is a build-up of bacteria on your teeth and gums. In your mouth and the rest of your body, there is such a thing as good bacteria and harmful bacteria. Good bacteria help protect our bodies by consuming many different forms of unwanted wastes and break down different starches that the body might have trouble breaking down. There are lots of good bacteria in our mouths to help us break down food so it is easier to consume. There are also forms of harmful bacteria that, instead of breaking down unwanted substances, they break down tissue. When tissue is broken down in the body by an infection, this can lead to bacteria entering the bloodstream which can pose serious health complications in other parts of the body.

Gingivitis acts just like the “service engine” light does in your car; alerting you that if you don’t take action soon, this inflammation of the gums can lead to much more serious complications. Being one of many different forms of periodontal diseases, Gingivitis is the mildest form of the disease and is the most easily treatable. However, if the condition is left untreated, there are chances of the disease escalating into full-blown periodontal disease in which can lead to permanent root damage and the loss of teeth. But don’t worry; you can treat Gingivitis and decrease its chances of worsening with your dentists’ help!

You can combat Gingivitis by brushing frequently and properly as well as flossing regularly between teeth to remove plaque build-up. Also, the use of anti-septic mouthwashes can be used to remove excess bacteria associated with infection and bad breath. Be sure to consult your dentist for ways to manage your Gingivitis symptoms to insure a beautiful smile for life!

Have more questions? Ask our blog, and get answers straight from the source – your friendly Tulsa family dentist!

Dentistry through history…

A recent read about the Museum of Dentistry got us thinking about all of the odd contraptions and techniques that have been applied to dentistry over the years. It seems like nearly everything has been tried, and some of the ideas and experiments from dentistry’s past just look plain weird! So many odd facts and bits of information can be found about dentistry on the web – did you know that George Washington only had one tooth by the time he went into office as President of the United States? That tooth later went on to be worn around the neck of his dentist after it fell out. Amazing!

One of our favorite pieces of dental history? Doc Holliday! Yes, Doc Holliday was actually a doctor – a dentist, to boot! What are some of your favorite stories of dental contraptions or dental trivia? Share them with us! We’d love to hear what you have found out!

We’re not surprised – but then again, we’ve always been partial to porcelain to keep that gorgeous smile in your mouth, where it belongs! Gold teeth are always an option, but in an economy where gold is becoming valuable enough for people to steal straight from your mouth, it may be a wise option to ask your dentist about porcelain, or even silver-toned metals that will be less “flashy” in your mouth. Have a question or a thought about caps, crowns or veneers? Let’s chat!

Really beautiful allegorical maps of the heart – perfect for an intellectually stimulating Valentines Day! Hoping each of our friends have a wonderful day, whether you spend it with a loved one or enjoy a quiet night of chocolates and movies with a friend!


Heart-shaped maps are one thing, but maps of the human heart are quite another, and I’ve got both on this Valentine’s Day.  The charting of emotional territory, as opposed to physical space, has resulted in the production of several interesting maps from the seventeenth century to the near-present.  Below are the companion Map of the Open Country of a Woman’s Heart and Map of the Fortified Country of a Man’s Heart, ostensibly and anonymously drawn “by a lady” and published by the Kellogg Brothers of Hartford, Connecticut in the 1830s.  These heart maps, along with lots of other examples of the Kellogg’s impressive lithography, can be viewed at the online gallery of the Connecticut Historical Society and Museum.

I’ve brightened and cropped both maps so that you can better see the different regions that make up these human hearts. It’s very interesting that the woman’s heart is an “open”…

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Glitter teeth a new trend?

Yesterday on our Facebook Page we hooked our fans up with an article showcasing recent pop sensation Lana Del Rey’s single glittery silver tooth, seen as she sings and smiles to an audience at a recent performance. This opened up an interesting line of thought – we’ve obviously gone from crowns being a thing of embarrassment before recent advancements made them almost invisible, to a culture that celebrates the idea of cosmetic alterations (see Vampire Diaries fans, goth kids, rappers, etc., and you’ll see cosmetic alterations). Cosmetic dentistry has certainly come a long way, opening patients up to a realm of unique ways to make their smiles stand out in a crowd and create signature looks with as simple a procedure as a basic veneer, cap or crown. But is it really appealing? Why not strive for a natural, pearly, healthy smile? 

On the other hand, there is something endearingly quirky about a single tooth that has a little something special about it – we’d love to hear what you think about this growing trend. 


The squeal of the drill…

No sound is as loathesome as the sound of the drill for many dental patients. Some patients even say the sound is really what “hurts” the most! Technology is continuing to press forward with noise canceling solutions, so hang tight if you’re waiting for those sounds to be eliminated from your next dental visit. For those of us who must endure the sound until a solution is created, we recommend the following tips for stress reduction during drilling:

1. Listen to some relaxing tunes on your iPod or MP3 player – it will help reduce the amount of drill noise in your ears, and get you in a more comfortable mental state.

2. Try to focus on your breathing. Yoga practitioners swear by the breath and controlling the breath to help create focus and relaxation during stressful times, and they’re definitely on to something. Don’t forget to breathe, and try to take even, deep breaths to help calm your body and soul.

3. Still a nervous wreck? Tell your dentist – we are able to prescribe you mild sedatives to help calm your nerves and get you in a better state of mind before you even set foot in the chair. 

Need some more information about drills and that whirrrrrrrring sound? Check out this blog: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/thomas-p-connelly-dds/dentist-drill_b_1195358.html