Every morning when you wake up, you typically have the same routine. For some, they absolutely must have their morning coffee, for others, take two minutes out of their morning to pick up a toothbrush, some toothpaste and get to brushing. In our local grocery or drug stores, there are aisles dedicated to oral hygiene. And while we scan the shelves for our favorite toothbrush and staple toothpaste, this question may have crossed our minds: who invented the first toothbrush and what did it look like? Who decided that brushing our teeth every day was a good idea?
The History of Toothbrushes
According to Colgate, toothbrushing tools date back to 3500-3000 BC when the Babylonians and Egyptians frayed the end of a twig and used that to brush their teeth. By 1600 BC, the Chinese created chewing sticks made from aromatic trees, using the twigs to freshen breath. It’s believed that the Chinese officially developed a toothbrush, using bristles made from pigs’ necks in the 15th century. The bristles were attached to a bone or bamboo handle. Once Europe got ahold of these toothbrushes, they adapted their own version by using softer bristle materials made from horsehair. Some other European toothbrush designs used feathers as toothbrush bristles.
The more modern toothbrush that we are used to today was made by William Addis, an Englishman around 1780. Cattle bone was carved carefully into a handle while pig bristles still made up the brush. The first 3-row bristle brush was designed in 1844.The truly modern toothbrush however, came in 1938 when natural bristles were beginning to phase out and nylon bristles were taking over. We use nylon bristles today because it is much cleaner and gentler on the tooth’s enamel. In the 1950s, softer nylon bristles were being used because hard bristles were too difficult on some peoples’ teeth, scratching the enamel. Believe it or not, the first electric toothbrush made its debut back in 1939 while the first electric toothbrush made its entrance into the U.S. in 1960 by Broxodent which is still a company today.
This history brings us to where we are today, lingering in the oral care aisle, scanning through various brands, colors, and toothbrush densities to find the brush that best suits our oral needs. The model of the toothbrush has stayed the same, a handle to hold and a brush-like tip to scrub our teeth of bacteria, leftover food, and impurities.
The History of Toothpastes
Toothpaste is basically a soap that we can use in our mouths to properly dissolve and kill bacteria, plaque, and other bad little people in our mouths that cause tooth decay and oral conditions. It is believed that the Egyptians started using a paste around 5000 BC, before toothbrushes were even invented. We know that Ancient Greeks, Romans, and people in China and India first began using toothpaste around 500 BC. Toothpaste is used for the same reasons as before, to freshen breath, whiten teeth, and keep our mouth, teeth, and gums clean. The ingredients back in ancient times were very much different from what we have today. Back then, some ingredients included ox hooves’, ashes, burnt eggshells, pumice, crushed bones, oyster shells, and more. These added abrasiveness to remove plaque buildup.
The Greeks and Romans favored more flavoring and used to add charcoal and bark to eliminate bad breath. The Chinese would use a variety of salt, herbal mints, and ginseng to reduce the bad breath. By the 1800s, the development of toothpastes became modernized, using soap and even chalk in the 1850s. It was a bit of a long journey until the 1890s when Colgate introduced toothpaste in a tube, a product we are used to buying today. After 1945, soap was removed from the ingredients list of all toothpastes, replacing it with a safer, more common ingredient that is still used in present time, sodium lauryl sulphate.
Throughout the twentieth century, toothpastes began to target very specific oral issues such as fluoride, tooth decay, tartar prevention, and more. In more recent time, the search for the best whitening toothpaste has become important as celebrities flash their brilliant white smiles. We have toothpastes that cover a variety of oral hygiene issues, from tooth whitening to preventing gum disease to eliminating halitosis, a severe bad breath condition.
Contact Gentle Dentistry in Haworth, NJ Today!
If you feel that your oral health could be improved but you’re not sure how, you may want to schedule a personal consultation with one of our expert dentists to learn more about your smile and how to improve upon your oral hygiene. If you’re already an expert on brushing your teeth but you still have tooth decay or a missing tooth, dental implants may be the best solution for you. To find out if you’re a candidate for dental implants, contact our Haworth office to make an appointment that fits your schedule. We look forward to assisting you!