Living in the Dark Ages: oral care 700 years ago was not so bad

Living in the Dark Ages: oral care 700 years ago was not so bad

We like to think of the Dark Ages as a time of, well, darkness. But this a very misleading name for medieval times, and things weren’t for sure as dark as they seem from our XXIth century perspective. Of course, if you ask me whether we take better care of our teeth now, you can guess my answer.

But it’s amazing to see just how careful medieval people were with their teeth, especially those in higher social classes. Beautiful white teeth and good breath have always been signs of beauty throughout the ages, and those times were no exception.

They used all sorts of natural methods to keep their teeth clean, like rubbing rough cloth over them. They also used powdered charcoal from burnt rosemary to help with the cleaning process and to keep a fresh breath. Basically, herbs and spices were used in pastes and mouth washes, as well as ground salt.

But what’s even more surprising is what archaeological remains show us: during the Middle Ages tooth decay was not as common as it is today! The fact that sugar had not yet completely entered the European diet played a big factor in this, along with the consumption of a lot of vegetables and cereals, and, of course, dairy.

Only when sugar became a staple in our diet, carried over from the tropics, did the European population started to show signs of severe tooth decay, and this still happens today. As I’ve said here before countless times, diet is a vital part of keeping our teeth healthy.

Plague and war aside, maybe we could learn a thing or two from our ancestors, right?


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