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Toothbrush and Toothpaste

Tracing The History of Toothbrush and Toothpaste

Several forms, sizes, and features make up the toothbrush market at present. But before Hautman and Goldstein invented the very first commercial toothbrush in 1875, people used different materials to give their mouth a clean.

How Toothbrushes Came To Be

Ancient people used items easily found in their surroundings as toothbrush. Such items include chew sticks, animal bones, bird feathers, tree twigs, and porcupine quills.

In the late 1400s, Chinese people developed the first modern concept of a toothbrush. Attached to a bamboo stick, the toothbrush used the stiff hairs from a hog’s hair. On the other hand, Muslims used miswak, a twig derived from a Salvadora persica tree, to clean their teeth. Also, in ancient Indian medicine, the neem tree is used to create toothbrushes.

The very first mass-produced toothbrush is credited to William Addis of England who created it in 1780. Meanwhile, in the United States, H.N. Wadsworth held the first patent for a toothbrush in 1857. However, mass production of the oral hygiene instrument only started in 1885.

In 1938, toothbrushes with natural animal bristles such as from Siberian boars were replaced with synthetic fibers like nylon, giving birth to the first nylon-bristled toothbrush manufactured from nylon yarn on February 24, 1938. American conglomerate DuPont is credited for replacing animal fibers with synthetic fibers.

In 1954, Dr. Philippe Guy Woog of Switzerland challenged the traditional manual toothbrush market with his invention of the first electric toothbrush which is a plugged-in device running on a line voltage and initially designed for people under orthodontic treatment or with limited motor skills.

In the 1960s, American multinational conglomerate General Electric (GE) came out with a rechargeable, cordless toothbrush with the capability to move up and down.

How Toothpaste Came To Be

The first known account about toothpaste was found as early as the fourth century A.D. in Egypt. According to accounts, a mixture of pepper, mint leaves, iris flowers, and powdered salt made up the early toothpaste.

Ancient Chinese people were also believed to be early users of toothpaste which was made from mashed bones and twigs combined with salt, water, and flower petals. On the other hand, ancient Indians hinged its use of toothpaste to its Ayurvedic medicine where rare twigs are chewed and rubbed on the teeth to whiten and clean them.

In the 19th century, cleaning the teeth involved the use of tooth powders made from home and with either salt, chalk, or pulverized brick. Toothpaste collapsed into tubes came into the picture in 1880 with Dr. Washington Sheffield’s Crème Dentifrice. Colgate imitated this idea and produced Colgate & Company’s Dental Cream in 1896.

Fluoride, a common ingredient in present-day toothpaste, was only added into the formula of toothpaste in 1914. By 1960, the American Dental Associated has endorsed fluoride in toothpaste as effective in oral care.

Aside from fluoride, an antibacterial and antifungal agent, Triclosan, was also added in some toothpaste. The antibacterial and antifungal agent protects against plaque build-up, periodontal diseases, bad breath, and tooth decay.

At present, different variants of toothpaste meant to address different dental needs of consumers are sold in the market.

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