Did Vikings Brush Their Teeth

Did Vikings brush their teeth? The truth about Viking teeth

Did Vikings brush their teeth? If you’ve ever watched a movie about Vikings, or read stories about their somewhat aggressive history, you might assume the answer is “no.” After all, Vikings were a fearsome and powerful community, focused on dominating the world.

However, this doesn’t necessarily mean Vikings didn’t have a passion for hygiene too.

In fact, experts in the historical landscape commonly consider Vikings to be the community with one of the best approaches to personal hygiene. Far more than just bloodthirsty savages, these individuals took significant pride in their appearance.

While Vikings might not have had access to the floss and toothbrushes we take for granted today, they still found ways to keep their teeth in good shape.

Here’s what you need to know about Viking teeth.

Did Vikings brush their teeth? Here’s what we know

So, did Vikings brush their teeth?

Technically, the answer is “no.” Vikings didn’t have the implements we use today to actually “brush” their teeth with toothpaste and toothbrushes. However, they did clean their teeth regularly.

From what we know about Viking history, these individuals were some of the cleanest groups across Europe.

In fact, the personal hygiene of Vikings is considered to have been significantly better than many of the Christians across Europe. Vikings regularly bathed, washed, and combed their hair, and worked hard to keep their teeth in great condition.

One of the most common laments recorded by Christian communities dealing with Viking invasions was about how successful the invaders were at seducing local women. According to geographer Ibn Rusta, Vikings were almost always “clean” and took great care in their appearance.

While Vikings are often associated with aggression, violence, and heathenism, they were also considered to be a very proud culture. Vikings had a strong sense of honor, and this translated to how they presented themselves, both during and outside of battles.

Did Vikings Brush Their Teeth

What were Viking teeth like?

Although Viking teeth were generally quite clean, like the rest of the Vikings in general, historical evidence shows they may have been a little different to the teeth of the Nordic communities today.

First, most experts believe the teeth of Vikings were usually in relatively good condition for a number of reasons. Many Vikings used picks to clean the gaps between their teeth, and some historian believes they may have also used fibrous hazel twigs and similar tools as a kind of brush.

The Viking skeletons discovered over the decades have usually had relatively strong teeth too. Some historians believe this has something to do with the low-sugar diet consumed by most Vikings.

While some remains have been found with evidence of gum disease, the same could be said for human beings around the world today.

Vikings did occasionally suffer from abnormal levels of wear on their tooth enamel, as a result of the unprocessed foods and meats they consumed on a daily basis. According to archeological evidence, it’s likely most Vikings lost around 10% of their teeth throughout their lifetime.

Vikings also customized their teeth

Perhaps the biggest threats to Viking teeth weren’t decay and tartar, but commonplace damage from battles and brawls. It’s also worth noting many Vikings deliberately customized their teeth for the purpose of scaring their enemies.

According to a Swedish anthropologist, a number of Viking skeletons have been discovered with unusual grooves on their front teeth. These grooves were created deliberately by the Vikings to fill with red pigment, designed to frighten people in battle.

It’s not certain how Vikings carved their teeth, but some researchers believe doing so was a symbol of honor and pride among Viking warriors.

Scientists believe the practice of filing grooves into teeth was something Vikings picked up from interacting with American communities. This is because, as far as we know, there were no cultures throughout Europe who engaged in the same dental modifications.

Viking teeth were crucial to the culture

As mentioned above, dental care was just one of the ways Vikings maintained their honor and demonstrated pride in their appearance. However, for Vikings, teeth had a lot more meaning and importance than most people would assume.

Aside from carving grooves into their teeth to scare away enemies, Vikings also had a few traditions surrounding teeth, which indicated their respect for the human skeleton.

When a child lost a tooth, it was frequently carried to sea by their father. Many Vikings believed personal items had protective power. Carrying the teeth of someone you loved with you on an adventure was a kind of good luck charm.

Additionally, though Vikings may not have invented the “tooth fairy” we know today, they did collect teeth as a way to protect themselves against the forces of nature. Some believed personal items like teeth could act as amulets to help with turning the tide in their favor during battles.

Did Vikings Brush Their Teeth

How did Vikings clean their teeth?

So, how did Vikings keep their teeth clean? Although scientists have discovered a number of grooming utensils in Viking burial grounds over the years, there hasn’t been any evidence of custom-made toothbrushes.

Like most communities from the past, Vikings didn’t have access to the exact brushing accessories we know today.

Based on the strength and preservation of the teeth in Viking skeletons, scientists believe Vikings used picks to clean away plaque and food.

There’s some evidence of scrapes and slight damage around the teeth of some remains to validate this theory. The chances are many of these picks were made from metal or animal bones.

Some researchers also believe Vikings may have accommodated for the lack of available brushing utensils in the past by using nature to their advantage. Fibrous twigs and pieces of cloth may have also been part of the dental cleaning routine for Vikings.

However, it’s difficult to know for certain if Vikings used these measures, due to a lack of remains.

How did Vikings keep their teeth clean?

While our research into the incredible history of the Vikings is still ongoing, the evidence collected so far shows Vikings were far more committed to personal and dental hygiene than most people realize.

While it’s common to think of these people as little more than brutes, there’s clear evidence to show these Nordic ancestors were clean and well-groomed.

It’s uncertain how often Vikings cleaned their teeth, and whether they went beyond using picks and other utensils in their hygiene practices. However, rooms and locations built within Viking camps specifically for grooming indicate the Vikings were very proud people.

Reports of Viking invasions throughout the years also highlight just how surprised many enemies were to discover the Vikings were clean, well groomed, and even attractive individuals.

Whatever Vikings were doing to keep their teeth clean; it was clearly a part of the community’s dedication to preserving their appearance.

Vikings: The brutes with a bright smile

So, did Vikings brush their teeth? The evidence collected by archeologists and historians throughout the years suggests the simple answer is “no”. However, while Vikings might not have brushed their teeth in the same way we do, they still gave them significant care.

Vikings were heavily committed to keeping themselves clean, well-presented, and hygienic, even when they were planning on pillaging towns and villages.

Viking dental practices might have been somewhat unusual compared to the habits we have today, but they were definitely important to the community.

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