Toothbrush: A Dental Care Innovation

Imagine what life would be like without this to brighten our smiles and keep our mouths healthy?

Imagine what life would be like without this to brighten our smiles and keep our mouths healthy?

Arguably, no dental innovation has had a more far-reaching impact than the toothbrush. The toothbrush is an essential tool that is used for the care of our teeth. Have you ever missed brushing your teeth for one day? Have you ever considered what it would be like without the toothbrush? Like many common household items, we give little thought about the origins or the trials and tribulations these products went through to arrive in the form we see in store’s today. The toothbrush is certainly no exception.

The Origins of the Toothbrush

Unlike the majority of other common household items, there is no single person credited as being the sole inventor of the toothbrush. It would seem as though the toothbrush actually evolved over time and mainly out of necessity. Traces of the first toothbrush have been dated back to the Egyptians and Babylonians, making the toothbrush one of the oldest devices still used by man. This particular version was nothing more than a stick, upon which the individual would chew until the fibers of the wood formed a brush; the sticks were believed to have healing and antiseptic qualities.

The Bristles Make All the Difference

The Chinese are credited with inventing the first bristle toothbrush, similar to the type used today. They took the hairs of Siberian wild boar and manipulated them onto bamboo sticks, one of the most common plants from that region. The sticks were then used just like a modern manual toothbrush to clean the teeth. The biggest drawback to the boar hairs was the fact that it was extremely rough on the gums. Once this iteration of the toothbrush made its way to Europe, some people began to use hair from the backs of horses, as it was much gentler on the gums.

Bristles Come Full Circle

Animal hair bristles remained in use until 1937, when Wallace Carothers created nylon in the DuPont laboratories. One year later, the first nylon toothbrush — the Miracle-Tuft Toothbrush — was created. After World War II, Americans began to become more concerned about oral hygiene. Brushing teeth regularly became popular in the U.S. after soldiers returned home and brought with them their strict habits of brushing their teeth. This influence prompted the development of more advanced toothbrushes and helped bring oral hygiene into the mainstream.

Over the centuries, the toothbrush has seen many changes in designs and materials used. The brands, styles and colors of toothbrushes are virtually endless. Now the toothbrush is a scientific instrument, which comes in diverse colors, shapes and sizes. It’s a tool with modern ergonomic designs and safe hygienic materials. The toothbrush has stood the test of time, thus earning the title of being the cornerstone of proper oral hygiene.

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