Medieval Times and Dental Health

Dental health is perhaps not the first thing you think of when you think of people living in medieval times; however, there is a great deal of evidence to support the fact that medieval people did make an effort to take care of their teeth and gums.

Evidently, oral hygiene products were not nearly as advanced as they are today and people didn’t have access to the range of toothpastes, dental flosses and mouthwashes that we do today. Instead, people in medieval times relied on natural products, which were derived from a variety of sources, including spices and herbs including rosemary, sage and mint. Sometimes, the herbs were chewed and sometimes they were crushed and combined with a liquid, which was then used as an early form of mouthwash.

Treatments came from other European countries and became more advanced as time went by. Most people’s oral hygiene routine was centred on using liquids such as vinegar and caustic substances as mouthwashes and scrubbing the teeth using a cloth and a mixture of herbs and abrasive substances, which rubbed bacteria off the teeth. Strong, pleasant smelling substances, including mint, musk and bay leaves, were also used to freshen the mouth and prevent bad breath; contrary to popular belief, medieval people were meticulous about personal hygiene and were constantly looking for new ways to make them look better and smell sweeter. There is also written documentation proving that people used fine sticks to remove food deposits, much like we use toothpicks today.