A few years ago, I started using an electric toothbrush at the behest of my exasperated dentist. It was a good call–I went from being told my teeth and gums represented those of a hobo, to someone who didn’t have to live in fear of his six-month cleaning. Recently, as I lay back in the dental chair listening to the hygienist talk about how my gums “look great,” I got to wondering: Who invented the toothbrush?
I started at Yahoo! Search and quickly found a great link from the Library of Congress. They explain that modern toothbrushes were invented in 1938. However, teeth cleaning devices can be traced as far back as 3000 BC. “Ancient civilizations used a ‘chew stick,’ which was a thin twig with a frayed end.” Folks would rub them against their teeth, perhaps in hopes of prying away any unsightly woolly mammoth meat.
The very first mass-produced toothbrush was made by an English chap named William Addis sometime around 1780. A page from The American Society of Mechanical Engineers explains that Addis “attached hairs from the tail of a cow to the end of a whittled thighbone from the same animal.” Amazingly, to this day, “descendants of William Addis still manufacture toothbrushes at a factory in England.” (I presume they no longer use cow tails.)
As for the electric toothbrush, the Library of Congress writes that it first hit the market around 1960. One of the more famous models was known as the Broxodent. I searched around for more info on the landmark tooth-scrubber and came across this vintage ad from the ’60s, marketing the contraption as “a thoughtful and welcome gift.”
Clearly you guys know my stance on the whole electric vs. manual toothbrush debate. Got your own opinions? What about the different types of toothpaste. Does it matter if you use “anti-cavity” toothpaste instead of “whitening” toothpaste? My experience tells me no, but I’d love to hear your thoughts.
Thanks for reading,
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