Practical Skills: A Brief Tooth-Care Guide

The most important aspect of tooth-care is diet. It's no secret that candy and sugar are the leading causes of cavities, aside from actually taking care of your teeth and gums. A diet rich in natural foods or a diet similar to those of our hunter-gathering ancestors (The Paleo Diet), who typically lived their lives without tooth decay or problems, will help curb any teeth problems you might already have.

However, there are other methods besides diet that help keep your teeth clean, plaque free, and cavity free, such as the twig toothbrush method. The idea is pretty simple; collect a twig from a tree and use it as a brush. No toothpaste is ever needed, as all the healing properties you might need are already included in your "brush!" These twigs help to stimulate blood circulation as well as tighten and cleanse your gum tissue. Depending on which tree you gather your twigs from, you'll receive a lot of other health benefits as well. Some of the best trees to get your twigs from, all of which will provide a dosage of Vitamin C which is vital to maintaining a healthy mouth, are bay, eucalyptus, fir, juniper, and oak.

Beyond your brush, there are certain foods that help your gums and teeth, such as Licorice root, which helps to prevents cavities, reduces the presence of plaque, and is also an antibacterial.

If all else fails, grab an apple! Removing stains from teeth, whitening teeth as you eat, and reducing plaque build up, apples work as a toothbrush and toothbrush do.
Called by some, "The Natural Toothbrush."

They say only take care of the teeth you want to keep, or some phrase similar to that. This is true. You only get two sets that you grew yourself, and chances are if you are reading this you are on your second, so take care of them!

– Miranda Vivian



  1. Janene said,

    May 29, 2006 at 9:34 am

    Hey —

    Don’t forget the latest info…

    In Sweden, they are researching lacto-bacilli as a tooth decay remedy… the basic principal being that lacto-bacilli will out-compete deacy causing bacteria in your mouth. So make some all-natural lacto-fermented ginger ale and enjoy!


  2. Aftermath said,

    May 30, 2006 at 10:09 am

    Interesting read Janene. Drink soda, have a great smile! Hmmm… I think I’ll keep to my water, juice, and tea for my beverages anyway… Is the research on lacto-bacilli finished or are they still examining results and such?

    – Miranda Vivian

  3. Janene said,

    May 31, 2006 at 10:14 am

    Hey —

    I saw a segment on this on Discovery today or one of those new/future science weekly magazines… so depending on when it was first produced, the research was just barely getting started.

    But they were really pushing the envelope… this wasn’t just about prevention, but actually for use as a treatment of existing carries (in place of fillings etc). And, quite frankly, it makes sense. If they know that lacto-bacilli are generally dominant in our oral fauna… and they DO know that lacto-bacilli are good for us, I figure, worst case, it only helps SOME rather than replacing other dental care in civ.

    So for us its a win-win:-)


  4. Aftermath said,

    May 31, 2006 at 10:30 pm

    Hey Janene,
    Do you know how lacto-bacilli works?
    I like prevention rather than treatment personally, but treatment is good too!
    Actually, I read recently about a man who was told he was going lose his teeth within a year because of poor gums, rotting teeth, and the like. He went to several doctors to see if there was anything that could be done. Apparently he liked what he heard at one place: switching to a natural diet, using non-artificial tooth cleansers, and increasing his amounts of antioxidants. Worked for him! Within half a year the same doctors that told him he would be losing his teeth blinked in astonishment!
    Having more treatments for ailments or problems that are already there are certainly good. Do you know how well this sort of thing would hold up after civ?
    – Miranda Vivian

  5. Janene said,

    June 3, 2006 at 9:56 am

    Hey —

    How they work? Well, only in general terms. Its a bacteria that feeds on various sugars… for example, lacto-bacilli in milk feed on lactose, breaking it down into simplier protiens that we are able to digest. Likewise, you can ferment grains and beans with lacto-bacilli — beans that have been fermented become ‘flaggelence (sp??) free’ Its pretty cool:-)

    So in tooth care, what we are talking about is lacto-bacilli out-competing other mouth fauna. Since lacto-bacilli feed on similar things to what we do — but do not cause tooth decay, they can happily live in our mouths and decrease/eliminate the bacteria that DO cause decay.

    In theory, eating lots of naturally-polishing foods — carrots and apples and so forth, lots of foods that require active chewing (meats, raw greens, etc), avoiding processed sugars (the ‘favored foods’ of decay causing bacteria) and supplementing our diets with lacto-bacilli, should provide a full range of dental care.

    Also, something important re: tooth loss. When an individual loses a tooth — for ANY reason — the bone at the base of that tooth begins to receed. As it receeds, it pulls back from adjoining teeth and eventually causes further tooth loss. So the best practice for keeping your teeth — is keeping your teeth. But this may be worth looking into further, to see if there are any ‘treatments’ that might be effective in retarding the bone loss — specifically considering tooth loss via accident/conflict.


  6. Aftermath said,

    June 3, 2006 at 10:53 am

    Definitely something to look into, to research a little about.

    Hmm…how about, a how to guide: a mouth guard! Protection for your teeth in times of war and hunting trips! Handy thing to have around….right?


    – Miranda Vivian

  7. Rix said,

    February 21, 2007 at 5:12 pm

    Dogwood twigs also make good toothbrushes. Strip a bit of the bark off with your teeth and then chew the naked wood to flatten the fibers out into a fan-like shape. I don’t know if they have vitamin C, but parts of the tree have been used for their antiseptic qualities, so it could probably help kill the plaque bacteria (though it might also kill lacto-bacilli that you might be trying to cultivate).

    I didn’t know about using the other tree twigs you mentioned. I’ll have to try those out.

  8. Aftermath said,

    February 24, 2007 at 12:40 pm

    Hey Rix,
    Thanks for all the input on several different subjects! It’s nice to hear other perspectives, ideas, etc. Anything you see that you want to comment on, go ahead. It might take a few days to get around to responding, as you can see, but we will eventually!

    – Miranda Vivian

  9. Rix said,

    February 25, 2007 at 1:14 am

    I really appreciate the stuff you and Ben are sharing here. I have been very inspired by your work (as well as that of Anthropik, Urban Scout and Ran Prieur–all of which I’ve been reading a LOT of lately). I finally decided to get in gear myself. I’m not quite as adventurous as some of you or as informed. But I’m trying to get there. I’ll be trying out some primitive skills and expanding my familiarity with the plants in my area and blogging about it on my new space: WildeRix. Feel free to drop by.

  10. Aftermath said,

    February 27, 2007 at 5:02 pm

    It’s nice to be appreciated! Good luck with your new site. We’ll be sure to link to it!

    – Miranda Vivian

  11. abdo said,

    December 24, 2008 at 10:45 am

    good article …

    thanks …


  12. Jenna said,

    July 1, 2011 at 4:12 pm

    Will try that!

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