Dentists have long advocated the use of toothbrushes. Many people are surprised to learn of its history, including the fact that the first true toothbrushes were made form the hair of swine.
Anyone who has ever visited the dentist knows that you are almost guaranteed to walk out of the office with a brand new toothbrush. That is because dentists know how important good oral health is, and good oral health starts with using a toothbrush. This is not a new innovation, really, as people have been cleaning their teeth for centuries.
The modern toothbrush probably has its origins in chewing sticks used by people as early as the Babylonian empire in the 3500s BC. These sticks were chewed to clean the mouth and teeth, and this procedure continued into both the Greek and Roman societies. Soon the devices became somewhat standardized. One end would be the chewing end, which was soft and shaped somewhat like the modern toothbrush you get from dentists. The other end was pointed and could be used like a toothpick. The twigs used for these chew sticks came from trees that were aromatic and were able to freshen the user's breath.
It wasn't until 1600 AD and the Chinese empire that the first bristled toothbrush hit the historic scene. In 1780, William Addis, who resided in England, made the first modern-style toothbrush. His brushes were made from the bone of cattle, and the bristles were hair from the necks and shoulders of swine. He and his descendents began to manufacture these brushes and sell them to others, and soon the idea of cleaning the mouth with a toothbrush became fashionable.
By the 1800s, European and Japanese people were widely using these bristled brushes to clean their teeth. The toothbrush was patented in America in 1857 by H. N. Wadsworth, and the oral hygiene method began to take root in the New World. By 1885, the first mass marketing of toothbrushes in America began in Massachusetts at the Florence Manufacturing Company. Soon dentists around the globe were advocating the use of the device.
Today's toothbrushes are not made from the hair of swine. In 1938, nylon was introduced to the toothbrush manufacturing world. It proved to be durable and effective and more cost-effective than natural toothbrushes.
In spite of the mass production of toothbrushes, the popularity among dentists, and the new nylon options, Americans were still negligent of their need to brush. Dental health was still poor. However, soldiers who served in World War II were required by the Army to brush, and when these soldiers returned home, they brought the habit with them. Soon brushing became vogue around the nation, and modern oral health improved significantly.
Yet another innovation in the toothbrush history occurred in 1939, when researchers in Switzerland developed an electric toothbrush. This innovation was marketed in America in the 1960s, with the rechargeable cordless toothbrush hitting the scene in 1961. The more rotary action electric toothbrush was introduced in the late 1980s. With all of the toothbrushes to choose from today, most individuals find they can easily find one that fits their expectations and meets the standards set forth by their dentists.