In the past, people had to be creative and inventive to brush and clean their teeth. Around 3500-3000 BC C., Egyptians and Mesopotamians used toothpicks to remove food particles between their teeth. Archaeologists have seen toothpicks buried along with Egyptian mummies. Ancient Chinese and Egyptian texts recommended cleaning teeth and eliminating cavities to help maintain health.
Some of the early techniques of these cultures included chewing on bark or sticks with frayed tips, feathers, fish bones and porcupine barbs. They used materials such as silver, jade and gold to repair or decorate their teeth. In addition to brushing their teeth, there were other ways in which the ancient Chinese kept their teeth clean and their breath fresh. For example, it was also important for ancient Chinese people to rinse their mouths with tea after eating, using the Poria mushroom as toothpaste and sprinkling certain herbs or spices in their mouths.
Eating the tuber of a bad-tasting plant prevented tooth decay 2000 years ago. They didn't have dental floss or toothpaste and, of course, they didn't have Listerine. However, in some ways, their mouths were much healthier than ours today.