Page 3.14

Prehistoric Dental Hygiene


Our Neanderthal ancestors probably cleaned their teeth, Spanish newspaper El Pais reported recently.

Spanish paleontologists recently uncovered two, 63,400-year-old tooth fossils near Madrid. The molars, found in near-perfect condition, once resided in the jaw of an approximately 30-year-old Neanderthal.

It’s been 25 years since another human specimen has been unearthed from that region. But even more exciting, head researcher Juan Luis Asuarga told El Pais, is that the teeth showed grooves that were likely formed by some kind of pointed object—presumably, a small stick used for cleaning the mouth.

Historians trace our modern-style toothbrushes to 15th century China. They had handles made from bamboo, and coarse bristles from hair of the Siberian wild boar.

Image: iStockphoto


  1. #1 Glendon Mellow
    September 30, 2007

    If they placed flowers on their fellow’s graves, I could certainly believe they’d want a nice smile for each other.

    Glendon Mellow
    The Flying Trilobite