Pilgrims and Indians — both sat down to an enormous Thanksgiving feast — but who enjoyed it most? Thanks to their healthy diets and, in turn, healthy teeth, it was the Indians who got to dive in and savor every bite.
Neither the Pilgrims nor the Native Americans had access to the modern day luxury of toothbrushes, but they did manage to makeshift their own. Instead of flipping a switch to power up their battery-operated brush, they tied animal hair to a twig or bone and scrubbed away the debris. In lieu of these materials, they opted for needles from a pine tree.
The Native Americans had a big advantage over the Pilgrims in terms of toothpaste. Because they knew the land like the back of their hand, they knew where to find herbs like sage and the cucacua plant to make a toothpaste-like cleanser. The Pilgrims did locate some herbs, leaves, and salt to clean their teeth, but it wasn't enough to balance out their poor diets.
After spending months aboard the Mayflower with limited food resources, it's likely that many of the Pilgrims first set foot on American soil with a mouthful of cavities. Because of the long journey, the Pilgrims could only bring aboard food that would not rot quickly, including dried meats and fruits, beans, grains, cheese, beer, and an enormous supply of hardtack — a dry biscuit whose ingredients include flour, water, and salt. These biscuits became the staple of many of the passengers' diets. Meanwhile, the Indians were munching away on well-balanced meals of meat, nuts, berries, and veggies.
One lesson to learn from the Pilgrims and Indians (among many others!): Your diet is just as important — if not more important — than your dental health habits!
Luckily for you, thanks to modern technology and easy access to healthy food, you can nosh away on all of the turkey, sweet potatoes, green bean casserole, and cranberry sauce that you want without worrying about any painful toothaches!