Jul 19

The History of the Toothbrush

History of the Toothbrush - Charlotte, NC

Posted on July 19, 2018 — by Dr. Pinnix

A woman brushing her teethWe all know brushing and flossing our teeth daily is key to protecting our oral health, but did you know that maintaining optimal dental health can also help prevent serious medical issues? Poor dental hygiene has been linked to health issues like heart disease, stroke, and diabetes, among others.

At Advanced Dentistry of Blakeney in Charlotte, NC, our team can help you preserve your oral well-being with general dentistry services, from cavity detection and treatment to deep cleaning. However, in the past, people had to use primitive toothbrushes to care for their smiles. Learn more about the history of the toothbrush in this blog post.

From Chew Sticks to Boar Bristles

Methods of teeth cleaning did not always resemble the same routines we follow today. The modern-day toothbrush did not exist until 1938, but primitive toothbrushes have existed since 3000 BC.

The ancient Egyptians cared for their teeth by applying a mixture of pumice, crushed eggshells, ash, and myrrh to teeth with their fingers. Long ago, ancient peoples also used “chew sticks,” which were small sprigs with ragged ends that they rubbed against their teeth.

Toothbrushes with bristles, much like the kind we now use, were not created until around 1498 in China with the development of boar bristle brushes. These were made of rigid hairs taken from the back of a hog’s neck and fastened to bone or bamboo handles.

This variety of toothbrush was popular until the introduction of nylon bristles by Dupont de Nemours in 1938.

Mass Production of the Toothbrush

When it came to making toothbrushes for the masses, America lagged behind England. William Addis of Clerkenwald, England was the first to produce toothbrushes on a large scale around 1780.

His design, which closely resembled the look of modern toothbrushes, came to fruition while he was in prison. Addis and the other prisoners were only allowed to use rags and soot to clean their teeth; however, Addis had a better idea. Drilling holes on an animal bone, he attached hair bristles through the holes.

It would be many more years before the United States began mass-producing toothbrushes. The first American to copyright a toothbrush was H. N. Wadsworth in November of 1857.

What about the toothbrush’s electric counterpart? This kind of technology was introduced almost 60 years ago when the Squibb company was among the first to produce electric toothbrushes, rolling out the Broxodent in 1960.

The Importance of Dental Hygiene

Although their methods were primitive, people of the past had the right idea in trying to take care of their teeth. You can avoid most dental issues by including the following steps in your oral hygiene regimen:

  • Use fluoride toothpaste to brush your teeth twice daily.
  • Floss daily to remove leftover food between teeth.
  • Schedule routine dental visits for checkups and cleanings.
  • Limit sugary food and drinks.
  • Avoid smoking or chewing tobacco.
  • If you consume alcohol, do so only in moderation.

Tooth brushing is the most fundamental aspect of a good dental hygiene routine. Without daily brushing and flossing, plaque, a sticky substance that builds up on your teeth, can result in tooth decay and gum disease. It is especially important to care for your teeth and gums if you suffer from diabetes or cancer, are a senior adult, or are pregnant.

Call to Schedule Your Appointment

Dental checkups and cleanings help maintain your oral health, so call our office today at 704-543-1102, or contact us online anytime.

Tagged with: General Dentistry

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