Toothpicks made from gold and a deer's tooth, India
Pack of wooden toothpicks, Japan
Toothpicks predate the toothbrush. The Roman Emperor Nero was known to appear at banquets with a silver toothpick between his lips and although the Roman author Pliny the Elder condemned cosmetics as a wicked luxury, he evidently believed in oral hygiene; in his Natural History published in the first century AD, he wrote that a toothpick made from "the frontal bones of a lizard, taken from the head of the animal at full moon" would help unhealthy teeth.
In Europe, toothbrushes made from boar- or horse-hair had been introduced from China, but toothpicks remained the tool of choice until brushing became more common in the 19th century. Ordinary people used sharpened sticks or goose quills, whilst the more well-to-do used luxury toothpicks stylized in precious metals or set with gems. In Shakespeare's play Much Ado About Nothing, the main character Benedick offers to find Don Pedro "a tooth-picker from the furthest inch of Asia."