The History of the Toothbrush

The toothbrush is an object that most people use every day. It seems hard to imagine life without them because they have been used for many years. In fact, archeologists found two molar teeth that were estimated to be 63,400 years old which showed the presence of grooves formed by the passage of a pointed object. The object was thought to be a small stick, which indicated that the Neanderthals may have cleaned their teeth.

The earliest-known toothbrush was made nearly 1,000 years ago in China. The brush was made by drilling holes into ivory or animal bones used for handles and inserting hog and horse hair into them. Toothbrushes have changed drastically over the years, but the same concept remains. The first person to make a modern-day toothbrush was an Englishman named William Addis. He invented the toothbrush while he was in prison by drilling small holes into cattle bone, tying swine fibers (from wild pigs) in bunches, passing them through the holes and gluing them in place.

Although toothbrushes and the concept of brushing one’s teeth have been around for thousands of years, it was not until after World War II that soldiers brought their enforced habits of tooth brushing home to America. This is when brushing teeth became more of an everyday habit and the demand for toothbrushes went up. After that, toothbrushes were changed to be more appealing to the buyer. In 1938, nylon toothbrushes, which were made with synthetic bristles, became popular. People preferred these brushes because they were softer to the mouth and cleaner than animal hair.

As time went on, the toothbrush became more personalized. People now can choose different colors and sizes. There are specific brushes made for orthodontist patients, dentures wearers and more. There are toothbrushes that sing songs for children to help them determine the length of time needed to thoroughly brush, as well as electric brushes. Some electric toothbrushes have clocks that automatically time the user when they turn the brush on or light up when using too much pressure. Various settings can be used to adjust the speed of the bristles as they move.

Technology sure has come a long way, and the toothbrush that once was homemade with objects from nature is now made many different ways with many different styles. Don’t forget when choosing a toothbrush that soft bristles are better than medium or hard bristles. Medium and hard bristles can damage and irritate the gums and cause recession, as well as cause abrasion to tooth surfaces. Plaque can be removed with a soft rag instead of a hard-bristled brush. Thoroughness is required in removing plaque, not pressure or scrubbing the teeth with hard bristles.

It is also recommended to change your toothbrush with the change of seasons; about every 3 to 4 months. Be sure to pick up a new toothbrush at your next dental appointment!

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