As we mentioned in another blog post, people throughout history have used twigs and hog’s hair toothbrushes to clean their teeth. Pilgrims may have used salt to brush their teeth. While it didn’t taste as good as our minty gel toothpaste, it was quite effective. Indians likely rubbed herb leaves, like sage, against their teeth. Other tribes used paste made from the cucacua plant to remove debris and plaque from their teeth. Additionally, some foods, like cranberries, have cavity-fighting powers.
To relieve a toothache, American Indians used the inner bark of butternut trees. They may have also used cloves, terragon, Calendula, and Yarrow root for pain relief.