By Swami Harshananda
Dantadhavana literally means ‘cleaning the teeth’.
Sages were very particular about personal hygiene since cleanliness of the body and the surroundings was conducive to the cleanliness and peace of mind. Hence, the writers of the dharmaśāstras have dealt with this aspect of one’s life, generally grouped under the titles āhnika and ācāra, in meticulous details.
Dantadhāvana or cleaning one’s teeth is one of the earliest acts in one’s daily routine. It is generally done with a small piece of a twig with its bark, taken from certain specified plants or trees having medicinal properties after shaping it like a toothbrush by crushing one of its ends. It is interesting to note that even this simple act of cleaning one’s teeth has to be accompanied by the chanting of certain mantras, the main purport of which is prayer for a long life, health, strength and also good memory and intelligence. It is to be repeated, though in a modified form, in the night also.
- The Concise Encyclopedia of Hinduism, Swami Harshananda, Ram Krishna Math, Bangalore