Toothbrush Quiz from Your Ankeny Dentist

What kind of toothbrush do you use? Do you prefer soft, medium, or hard bristles? An angled brush? Manual or electric? Pink, red, or blue? Spongebob or Angry Birds? Yes, there are many, many choices of types, colors, shapes, and sizes of toothbrushes in our modern society. As Thanksgiving approaches, have you ever wondered what the Pilgrims used to brush their teeth? Surely there wasn’t a corner drugstore for them to walk to after their feast. Your Ankeny dentist, Dr. Erika Peddicord, quizzes you on toothbrushes, old and new.


Q1. True or false – American pilgrims used something called yarrow root to brush their teeth.

Q2. True or false – The pilgrim diet likely helped them lessen their tooth decay challenges.

Q3. True or false – Approximately 80% of Americans have gum disease.


A1. FALSE – Native Americans found yarrow root to be a good way to clean teeth, along with herbs like tarragon. They also taught the newly arrived pilgrims a thing or two about oral hygiene with their frayed twig toothbrushes. Sage leaves were sometimes rubbed directly against the teeth for scouring plaque. Based on the best guesses of history, it’s likely that pilgrims also used salt as an abrasive, similar to the way we use toothpaste, and may have turned to hog’s hair to form bristles on their twig and bone brushes.

A2. TRUE – Our ancestors had no access to processed, starchy, sugary, chemical-laden, prepackaged foods. Much of what they ate was natural, organic, and raw. Raw vegetables, especially, can act as a natural plaque remover. All of that chewing also helps produce extra saliva, which can serve as a sort of shower for teeth, rinsing away food particles and plaque.

A3. TRUE – If 80% of people in the United States have some form of gum disease today, it’s easy to imagine that the Pilgrims probably had an even higher rate of dental issues, raw vegetables and frayed twigs aside.

Take Advantage of Modern Dentistry in Ankeny

Don’t be one of the 80%. You can prevent gum disease by brushing your teeth twice a day, flossing once a day, and visiting your dentist twice a year, without fail. You can contact our Ankeny dentist office today at (515) 963-3339. Peddicord Family Dentistry proudly provides comprehensive dentistry to patients in Ankeny, Cambridge, Sheldahl, Maxwell, Collins, the 50021 zip code, and surrounding neighborhoods.