Seven datoon toothbrushes, India, 1880-1920

1880-1920 in India

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7 of 20 datoon toothbrushes from the nim or margosa tree, Indian, 1880-1920

The twigs of the neem or margossa tree have been used in India as ‘datoon’ toothbrushes. This is a practice that has gone on for centuries. Indeed, trees of this type are often referred to as ‘toothbrush trees’. Chewing the twigs releases chemicals in the plant that can kill bacteria and greatly reduce the build up of plaque on the teeth.

The longest twig measures 270 mm in length. The toothbrushes were bought from the local bazaar by the Indian Museum in Calcutta (now Kolkata) who later donated the toothbrushes to the Wellcome collections.


Asian Medicine
Object Number:
A639149 Pt1
  • furnishing and equipment
  • tools & equipment

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