Buddha's advice on Brushing Teeth

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Buddha's advice on Brushing Teeth

Postby cooran » Sun Nov 11, 2012 5:37 am

Hello all,

I'm just dipping into Bhikkhu Bodhi's translation of the Anguttara Nikaya - The Numerical Discourses of the Buddha - and am interested to see that there was no aspect of ordinary life that could not benefit from advice from the Blessed One.

Here is his advice on good mouth hygiene:

‘’Bhikkhus, there are these five dangers in not brushing ones’ teeth. [1216]
What five? It is bad for one’s eyes; one’s breath stinks; one’s taste buds are not purified; bile and phlegm envelop one’s food; and one’s food does not agree with one.
These are the five dangers in not brushing one’s teeth.

‘’Bhikkhus, there are these five benefits in brushing one’s teeth. What five? It is good for one’s eyes; one’s breath does not stink; one’s taste buds are purified; bile and phlegm do not envelop one’s food; and one’s food agrees with one. These are the five benefits in brushing one’s teeth. [251]


Page 822 Numerical Discourses of the Buddha, translation of the The Anguttara Nikaya by Bhikkhu Bodhi
Note 1216: Dantakatthassa akhadane, lit. ‘’in not chewing on toothwood’’. In the Buddha’s time people cleaned their teeth by brushing them with sticks of medicinal wood such as neem, sharpened at one end and made brush-like at the base. This practice is still observed in rural India as well as in monasteries in southern Asia.
The Numerical Discourses of the Buddha, Anguttara Nikaya, Book of Fives p.822 (translated from the Pali by Bhikkhu Bodhi).

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Re: Buddha's advice on Brushing Teeth

Postby Ben » Sun Nov 11, 2012 5:51 am

Hi Chris,
I haven't gotten to that sutta yet in my readings.
But...how totally amazing!
The Buddha is very cool (and very cooled)!!!!
kind regards,

Ben
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Re: Buddha's advice on Brushing Teeth

Postby James the Giant » Sun Nov 11, 2012 5:52 am

How odd! I never expected that.
I am 70% sure you are serious, but 30% of me thinks no such sutta exists and you're having a laugh.
I must do some research to confirm for myself.
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Re: Buddha's advice on Brushing Teeth

Postby cooran » Sun Nov 11, 2012 6:04 am

Hello James,

I can understand your first thoughts! :smile: I was very surprised when Bhante Dhammasiha mentioned it in the Dhamma Talk this morning after Dana. He wasn't ready to give us the Talk as he had been giving advice to a lay person and hadn't had time to clean his teeth. He explained that it is part of the Vinaya that the monks must clean their teeth after eating. I couldn't wait to get home to look up the sutta.

It is sutta 208 (8) in the Book of Fives and is called ''Brushing''.

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Re: Buddha's advice on Brushing Teeth

Postby David N. Snyder » Sun Nov 11, 2012 6:12 am

:) Yeah, the Buddha thought of everything! It is great that we have such a great wealth of teachings from the Buddha. The Anguttara Nikaya has the most suttas dealing with everyday life and for lay people.

Now if we could just get the lay people to brush their teeth! It's kind of nasty when someone gets close to you talking right next to your face and they haven't brushed in perhaps days, weeks.
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Re: Buddha's advice on Brushing Teeth

Postby Ben » Sun Nov 11, 2012 8:32 am

David N. Snyder wrote::) Yeah, the Buddha thought of everything! It is great that we have such a great wealth of teachings from the Buddha. The Anguttara Nikaya has the most suttas dealing with everyday life and for lay people.

Now if we could just get the lay people to brush their teeth! It's kind of nasty when someone gets close to you talking right next to your face and they haven't brushed in perhaps days, weeks.

Indeed, and it also gets nasty, financially, going to the dentist when one has been negligent.
"Only those who take to meditation with good intentions can be assured of success. With the development of the purity and the power of the mind backed by the insight into the ultimate truth of nature, one might be able to do a lot of things in the right direction for the benefit of mankind."

Sayagyi U Ba Khin


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Re: Buddha's advice on Brushing Teeth

Postby DAWN » Sun Nov 11, 2012 9:53 am

But actualy, if we watch deeply, teeth are very very very important, and when for some one is not very very very important it becomes very very very painfull :|
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Re: Buddha's advice on Brushing Teeth

Postby Sambojjhanga » Sun Nov 11, 2012 12:12 pm

I, too, never cease to be amazed at the thoroughness of the Blesssed One's advice.

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Re: Buddha's advice on Brushing Teeth

Postby Cittasanto » Sun Nov 11, 2012 12:27 pm

is there a footnote to that "toothbrush"

it is commonly rendered as tooth wood, although PTS has tooth-pick.

If I remember correctly Ajahn Chah talks about using a charcoal stick although the common (version) used now (if it is different?) has one end like a tooth-pick and the other end is beaten into individual strands to be bitten.

Tanissaro in the BMC1&2 discusses it
BMC1 PC40 wrote: 40. Should any bhikkhu take into his mouth an edible that has not been given — except for water and tooth-cleaning sticks (§) — it is to be confessed.

"Now at that time a certain bhikkhu, living entirely off of what was thrown away (§), was staying in a cemetery. Not wanting to receive gifts from people, he himself took the offerings for dead ancestors — left in cemeteries, under trees, and on thresholds — and ate them. People criticized and complained and spread it about, 'How can this bhikkhu himself take our offerings for our dead ancestors and eat them? He's robust, this bhikkhu. He's strong. Perhaps he feeds on human flesh.'"


BMC2 personal grooming wrote:Care of the teeth. Toothbrushes, dental floss, toothpaste, and tooth powders were unknown in the time of the Buddha. However, there is an allowance for tooth wood, which is the same thing as the tooth-cleaning stick discussed under Pc 40. The Buddha extolled the virtues of using tooth wood as follows: "There are five advantages in chewing tooth wood: It makes the mouth attractive, the mouth does not smell foul, the taste buds are cleaned, bile and phlegm do not coat one's food, one enjoys one's food." At present, toothbrushes and dental floss would come under the allowance for tooth wood. Because tooth wood should not be less than four fingerbreadths long, many Communities extend this prohibition to include toothpicks less than four fingerbreadths as well. Toothpaste and tooth powder, because they are composed of mineral salts, would come under the allowance of salts for medicine.

Rules
"There are five advantages in chewing tooth wood: It makes the mouth attractive (§), the mouth does not smell foul, the taste buds are cleaned, bile and phlegm do not coat one's food, one enjoys one's food. I allow tooth wood." — Cv.V.31.1

"A long piece of tooth wood is not to be chewed. Whoever should chew one: an offense of wrong doing. I allow tooth wood eight fingerbreadths long at most. And novices are not to be flicked with it. Whoever should do so: an offense of wrong doing"... "An overly short piece of tooth wood is not to be chewed. Whoever should chew one: an offense of wrong doing. I allow tooth wood four fingerbreadths long at the very least." — Cv.V.31.2
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Re: Buddha's advice on Brushing Teeth

Postby Sambojjhanga » Sun Nov 11, 2012 1:37 pm

Cittasanto wrote:is there a footnote to that "toothbrush"

it is commonly rendered as tooth wood, although PTS has tooth-pick.

If I remember correctly Ajahn Chah talks about using a charcoal stick although the common (version) used now (if it is different?) has one end like a tooth-pick and the other end is beaten into individual strands to be bitten.



Do you happen to know where these sticks are available from? I wouldn't mind trying one to see how effective they are.

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Re: Buddha's advice on Brushing Teeth

Postby Cittasanto » Sun Nov 11, 2012 1:41 pm

not specifically although they are available in Thailand
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Blog, - Some Suttas Translated, Ajahn Chah.
"Others will misconstrue reality due to their personal perspectives, doggedly holding onto and not easily discarding them; We shall not misconstrue reality due to our own personal perspectives, nor doggedly holding onto them, but will discard them easily. This effacement shall be done."
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Re: Buddha's advice on Brushing Teeth

Postby Sambojjhanga » Sun Nov 11, 2012 1:47 pm

Cittasanto wrote:not specifically although they are available in Thailand


Thanks. There is a large Asian market in my town, perhaps I will check them out later as I will be in that area today.

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Re: Buddha's advice on Brushing Teeth

Postby SamKR » Sun Nov 11, 2012 2:53 pm

Nice one. Thanks, cooran. :smile:
Perhaps the Buddha had to deal with people with bad breath.
It is good for one’s eyes

But I don't understand how brushing is good for one's eyes. Does it mean teeth would look good to other's eyes?
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Re: Buddha's advice on Brushing Teeth

Postby Cittasanto » Sun Nov 11, 2012 3:16 pm

SamKR wrote:Nice one. Thanks, cooran. :smile:
Perhaps the Buddha had to deal with people with bad breath.
It is good for one’s eyes

But I don't understand how brushing is good for one's eyes. Does it mean teeth would look good to other's eyes?

the ears nose and throat are connected so maybe there was some observable difference when oral health was maintained at the time?
This offering maybe right, or wrong, but it is one, the other, both, or neither!
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Blog, - Some Suttas Translated, Ajahn Chah.
"Others will misconstrue reality due to their personal perspectives, doggedly holding onto and not easily discarding them; We shall not misconstrue reality due to our own personal perspectives, nor doggedly holding onto them, but will discard them easily. This effacement shall be done."
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Re: Buddha's advice on Brushing Teeth

Postby santa100 » Sun Nov 11, 2012 4:54 pm

Cooran wrote:
I'm just dipping into Bhikkhu Bodhi's translation of the Anguttara Nikaya - The Numerical Discourses of the Buddha - and am interested to see that there was no aspect of ordinary life that could not benefit from advice from the Blessed One.


From http://www.inquiringmind.com/Articles/Translator.html :

Ven. Bodhi: When I read the suttas on dependent origination and nonself, I thought: the Buddha is certainly enlightened, but maybe not perfectly so. However, when I came to the Sigalaka Sutta (Digha Nikaya 31) my doubts were dispelled. When I read this sutta, particularly the section on “worshipping the six directions” (In the Buddha’s Words, pp. 116–18), and saw how one who had fathomed the deepest truths of existence could also teach in detail parents how to bring up their children, a husband and a wife how to love and respect each other, and an employer how to care for his workers, I then knew: This teacher is indeed perfectly enlightened. To my mind, this sutta showed that the Buddha possessed not only the “ascendant wisdom” that rises up to the highest truth, but the “descending wisdom” embraced by compassion that drops down again to the level of the world and, in the light of the fullest realization, teaches and guides others in the way that suits them best.
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Re: Buddha's advice on Brushing Teeth

Postby Kenshou » Sun Nov 11, 2012 7:41 pm

I allow tooth wood eight fingerbreadths long at most. And novices are not to be flicked with it.


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Re: Buddha's advice on Brushing Teeth

Postby danieLion » Sat Nov 17, 2012 8:57 am

Thanks Chris. This is really cool. I use popsicle sticks and Plackers. Work way better than toothbrushes (which are only a recent invention). Since I've started using them, my checkups have been cavity free (Did you know they added the tingle to toothpaste just to make it more appealing?) I also have a toothbrush and some "industrial strength" fluoride toothpaste from my dentist I use about once a week along with occasionally swishing with the Crest pro-health she recommended.
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Re: Buddha's advice on Brushing Teeth

Postby tiltbillings » Sat Nov 17, 2012 9:33 am

What is shown here is very similar to what Ajahn Sumedho showed me when I briefly stayed at Wat Ba Pong in the mid 70's:

A chewstick, called a suwak, was probably the earliest toothbrush.

The chewstick for cleaning teeth was apparently borrowed from the Chinese and Babylonians. It is first mentioned as a common method of cleaning the teeth by the Romans. It consists of a stick a little smaller in diameter.than a pencil and about 6 inches long. It is made from any one of a number of fibrous woods. One end is chewed to separate the fibers and then the teeth are scrubbed one at a time. This method is still used in many parts of Africa and many Islamic countries.

Image http://drjuggles.com/history-of-dentistry.php


And here it is for sale:

http://izismile.com/2011/06/13/a_unique ... _pics.html

miswaks are available on Amazon.
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Re: Buddha's advice on Brushing Teeth

Postby Khalil Bodhi » Sat Nov 17, 2012 9:47 am

Hey everyone, here is a link to the tooth sticks which were probably used in the Buddha's day: http://www.miswakstick.com/miswak.html

Surprising, they are also considered a traditional accompaniment to the wudu (ablutions) of Muslims and were praised by the Prophet Muhammed. I may get a tooth stick myself!
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Re: Buddha's advice on Brushing Teeth

Postby Cittasanto » Sat Nov 17, 2012 10:52 am

Khalil Bodhi wrote:Hey everyone, here is a link to the tooth sticks which were probably used in the Buddha's day: http://www.miswakstick.com/miswak.html

Surprising, they are also considered a traditional accompaniment to the wudu (ablutions) of Muslims and were praised by the Prophet Muhammed. I may get a tooth stick myself!

You are not the only one!
This offering maybe right, or wrong, but it is one, the other, both, or neither!
With Metta
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Blog, - Some Suttas Translated, Ajahn Chah.
"Others will misconstrue reality due to their personal perspectives, doggedly holding onto and not easily discarding them; We shall not misconstrue reality due to our own personal perspectives, nor doggedly holding onto them, but will discard them easily. This effacement shall be done."
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