Five Facts About the History of the Toothbrush

Sedation in dentistry

Most people know how important it is to regularly go to the dentist because it keeps your teeth healthy and strong. Americans value having a nice smile so much that they drop just under $1.5 billion a year on tooth whitening products and procedures to keep their mouths beautiful. The average patient spends between $5,000 and $6,000 on various procedures to improve their smile.

It doesn’t always have to be expensive to keep teeth clean — the best way to avoid spending money on dentistry procedures is to have regular brushing and teeth cleaning habits. Dental care has come a long way and utilizes advanced procedures, especially compared to the poor dentistry techniques used in ancient civilizations. The dentist can be overwhelming and stressful at times, so keep reading to learn some facts about dental history that might intrigue you.

    1. Chew sticks were used before the modern toothbrush was invented
    Also known as a “teeth cleaning twig,” this simple tool utilized knowledge of plants to help prevent tooth decay. A stick was used from a tree that had special antimicrobial properties, so chewing on the stick simultaneously cleaned teeth and killed bacteria. It wasn’t as effective as our modern teeth cleaning techniques, but it did help prevent gum disease. The earliest recordings of chew sticks are in Egypt, China, and Africa.

    2. The first modern toothbrush was invented in China
    Thousands of years ago, during the Tang Dynasty, the first toothbrush that would be recognizable to us appeared on the market. The brush was made of hog bristle and the handle was made of bone or bamboo. It was relatively easy to make and was a huge advance in dental care at the time. The first toothbrushes that were sold on the market were made of hog or boar bristle. They were traded in Europe until the mid-twentieth century.

    3. In 1857, the first toothbrush design was patented in the United States
    Up until this point, toothbrushes were hard to mass produce, but H. N. Wadsworth invented a toothbrush that could utilize large scale production techniques. The design used a bone handle that had Siberian boar hair bristles, but after a few years of production, some flaws emerged. Animal hair holds bacteria and isn’t very durable, so a new plan was needed to improve the cleaning ability of the toothbrush.

    4. The synthetic fiber toothbrush takes hold
    Throughout the 1900s, the toothbrush switched from primarily using animal hair to using nylon bristles. The handles were made out of plastic. The advantage of this design is that is that it dries easily and lasts a lot longer than natural materials.

    5. The modern toothbrush
    This is what your general dentist gives you at your visit. The modern toothbrush has over 25,000 bristles in 40 groups of tufts, and it is the best design yet for clean teeth. Regular brushing and checkups from a family dentist keep teeth strong and healthy.

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