Knee-deep in the world of X-box and iPhones, it’s hard to imagine a time before the conveniences of modern technology, let alone a time when the simplest of inventions weren’t commercially available.
Interestingly enough, a 2003 survey conducted by Lemelson-MIT found that technologically advanced items like cars, computers or our beloved cell phones lag in importance when compared to a rather simple (but practical) invention. In the survey, the toothbrush beat out the car and computer as the invention American’s can’t live without. So exactly how did so many people live without the modern toothbrush?
It turns out the answer lies in the trees… literally!
Tufts of Pine Needles –The needles left breath piney fresh, and if chewed a little, one would receive a few milligrams of Vitamin C.
Pounded Hardwood Twig – Early Native Americans were well-documented in their historic use of pounded hardwood twigs as toothbrushes. Dogwood, oak and maple were just a few of the non-toxic hardwood varieties in use 300-400 years ago.
The end of the twig bent at a 90 degree angle helped to get the backs of teeth as well, which is a trick that cannot be done with the pine needles.
So there you have it. While our tooth brushing options today may be easier and more appealing, we wouldn’t be where we are today without these early tools. Aren’t you grateful we only have to hop on over to the hygiene aisle of the local drug store? I know I am!