An illustration in an ancient Chinese medicine book discussing children’s oral health.

The earliest reference to oral hygiene practice can be found in The Book of Rites, a Confucius classics on state affairs and daily lives of the previous Zhou dynasty (1046 BC – 256 BC). It described the people of Zhou habitually getting up early when roosters crowed and rinsed their mouths with salt water first thing in the morning.

The Major Ancient Chinese Medical Books on Oral Medicine

In the Han Dynasty, physician Zhang Zhongjing (张仲景 150 – 219) began to use amalgam to fill cavities caused by tooth decay.

Entering the Song Dynasty (960 – 1279), denture specialists became a popular profession with common materials to make false teeth including ivory, cow bone and hard sandalwood.

The Song royal hospital (太医局) also had a dentistry department, and royal dentists advised people to brush tooth before going to bed.

The first medical monograph on oral medicine Mouth and Teeth (口齿类要) was written by Xue Yi (薛已) of the Ming Dynasty, consisting of 12 chapters and over 20 clinical cases.

In a monumental medical monograph Compendium of Materia Medica (本草纲目), Li Shizhen (李时珍 1518 – 1593), another Ming scientist, pharmacologist, herbalist and acupuncturist, spent one-quarter of the book-length to introduce more than 500 methods and 400 herbal drugs that would prevent and cure oral diseases.

Ancient Chinese Toothpaste

In Wai Tai Miyao (外台秘要), a Tang Dynasty medicine book, doctor Wan Tao (王焘, 670 – 755) described how to brush teeth with a tender willow branch and make toothpaste with cimicifuga (9g), angelica (9g), ligusticum (9g), asarum (9g), agilawood (9g) and hydrophite (18g).

Another detailed account of toothpaste appeared in Beneficial Prescriptions for a Life in Peace (太平圣惠方), a comprehensive book on Chinese medicine compiled between 978 and 992 in the Song Dynasty under the royal commission.

The book suggests to boil finely cut fresh branches of the Locust tree, Mulberry tree and Willow tree until becoming a thick stew, then add minced ginger and lotus flowers to make medicated toothpaste.


Daniel Smyth (SiMahDan)
For the Chinese, there were no religious impediments, like those that existed in Europe.

All Things Chinese
That is why when Europe was in the Medieval dark age, China was in its most brilliant Tang, Song and Ming eras.

But the West goes to another extreme now. Only 5% of the matter that forms the universe is detectable by man-made instruments, yet some scientists dare to claim anything that can’t be proven by their machines does not exist. I think they are in the exact same mindset as those Medieval religious fanatics.  

Intelligence-wise, I feel that modern humans are less advanced than the ancients because we heavily rely on external assistance from technologies and our brains and body become lazy.  

Daniel Smyth (SiMahDan)
The scientist lack imagination.

All Things Chinese 
Our brain is a tool of our consciousness like our body, but it is a highly sophisticated tool invented by our consciousness, while the machines are tools invented by our brain. 

Machines can help us perform some specific tasks more efficiently than the body (such as vehicles) and brain (such as computers). But since machines are the products of the brain, not consciousness, they can never overtake the consciousness that is our true selves.

Same, our brain can help our consciousness to experience the world in a specific way (say 3D or 4D or more), but still it’s just a tool, and all tools have their boundaries in terms of application. 

What are the limitations of our brains? 

First of all, the brain is designed to handle a single task at any given moment, so it is very narrow in scope and selective in receiving data input, thus hard for us to obtain a broad and objective viewpoint when we just use our brain to assess matters;

Secondly, the brain’s storage is limited, so the amount of data we can process is constrained;

And finally, the brain as a tool needs its master, our consciousness, to handle, to manage and to control. Once our consciousness shifts its focus away from the physical body, the brain would stop working. You can observe this phenomenon from those in a coma — they lost their “consciousness” even though their brain is not damaged. 

Now the question. Why do we use the brain when we have our almighty consciousness? The answer: it’s the result of our obsession over some particular experiences (such as wanting to return to particular worlds to continue the game), and a bad habit that is hard to overcome (the majority of people don’t even know how to recognise their consciousness, let alone to stay with it and working with it).      

2 thought on “Ancient Chinese Oral Medicine”
    1. LOL, no dentistry or any medicine can lead anyone to immortality. Medicine might be able to cure your ailment but can’t change your fate (医可治病, 不可治命).
      The quality of your current and future living forms (the destiny) is determined by your consciousness and its manifested past and current thoughts and actions that are recorded in your achieve files (DNA / subconsciousness), not by your physical shelter.

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