Toothbrushes date back to 3500-3000 BC when the Babylonians and the Egyptians made them by fraying the end of a twig. Tombs of the ancient Egyptians have been found containing toothpicks alongside the deceased.
Somewhere around 1600BC, the Chinese fashioned aromatic tree twigs which they chewed to freshen their breath. And, it was the Chinese who are believed to have invented the first natural bristle toothbrush made from the bristles from pigs' necks in the 15th century. The bristles were attached to a bone or bamboo handle. When these brushes made their way to Europe, the Europeans modified the brushes by using horse hairs, or in some cases, feathers.
The Englishman William made a further improvement around 1780 when he designed a bone handle, but the bush itself was still hog bristles. In 1844, the toothbrush was refined even further when the first 3-row brush was designed.
Natural bristles were the only source of bristles until Du Pont invented nylon which revolutionized the toothpaste industry in 1938, but the bristles were still stiff. It wasn't until the 1950s that softer nylon bristles became popular.
The first electric toothbrush was made in 1939, but it wasn't until 1960 that the first electric toothbrush was introduced in the US, the Broxodent.
Actually, the Broxodent was invented in Switzerland in 1954 by Dr. Philippe Guy Woog. They were originally manufactured in Switzerland and later in France for Broxo S.A. Electric toothbrushes were initially created for patients with limited motor skills and for orthodontic patients.
The Broxo was introduced in the U.S. by E. R. Squibb and Sons Pharmaceuticals in 1959 and was marketed under the names Broxo-Dent or Broxodent. In the 1980s Squibb transferred distribution to a division of Bristol-Myers Squibb.
In the early 1960s General Electric introduced a cordless brush with rechargeable NiCad batteries. It was bulky with the handle about the size of a two D-cell flashlight. Early NiCad batteries had a short lifespan and the batteries were sealed inside the unit so the whole unit had to be thrown away when the batteries died.
By the early 1990s Underwriter Laboratories and the Canadian Standards Association wouldn't certify devices that used line voltage for bathroom use, so manufacturers had to begin using step-down transformers at low voltage.
By the 1990s there were problems with safety certification of Broxo's original design and improved battery-operated toothbrushes were pusing them out of the market.
Types of Electric Toothbrushes
Ultrasonic. These were first introduced in the U.S. in 1992. Initially, they worked only on ultrasound, but a few years later, a motor was added to give the brush a sonic vibration.
Sonic. They vibrate fast enough to produce vibration in the audible range with movements in the range of 24,000–48,000 movements per minute. They rely on sweeping motion alone to clean the teeth, the movement that they provide is often high in amplitude, meaning that the length of the sweeping movements that they make is large.
Ultrasonic. These are the newest fad. They use ultrasonic waves. In order for a toothbrush to be considered "ultrasonic" it has to emit a wave at a minimum frequency of 20,000 Hz or 2,400,000 movements per minute. Ultrasonic vibrations break up bacterial chains that make up dental plaque and remove their methods of attachment to the tooth surface up to 5 mm below the gum line.
Because of the similarity of the terms “ultrasonic” and “sonic” there is some confusion in the marketplace and sonic toothbrushes are frequently mislabeled as ultrasonic ones. Only a toothbrush that emits ultrasound, or vibration at a frequency greater than the upper limit of human hearing, can be called an "ultrasonic" toothbrush.
Are electric toothbrushes are more effective than manual ones? Independent research has found that most electric toothbrushes are no more effective than manual brushes assuming that people use a manual toothbrush brush effectively. The research concludes that the way brushing is done, including the amount of time spent, is more important than the choice of brush.
Electric brushes did reduce dental plaque 21 percent more and gingivitis11 percent more after three months of use, but it was determined that unless a person already has gingivitis it really didn't matter which brush was used.
The effectiveness of an electric brush depends not only on its type of action and on correct use, but also on the condition of the brush head. Most manufacturers recommend that heads be changed every three to six months or as soon as the brush head has visibly deteriorated.
Egyptians are believed to have started using a paste around 5000BC, before toothbrushes were even invented. Ancient Greeks and Romans are known to have used toothpastes, and people in China and India first used toothpaste around 500BC.
The ingredients of ancient toothpastes were very different and included a powder of ox hooves' ashes and burnt eggshells, that was combined with pumice. The Greeks and Romans favored more abrasiveness and their toothpaste ingredients included crushed bones and oyster shells. The Romans also added flavoring to help with bad breath, as well as powdered charcoal and bark. The Chinese used ginseng, herbal mints and salt.
The development of toothpastes in more modern times started in the 1800s. Prior to the 1850s, toothpaste was usually powders. During the 1850s, a new toothpaste in a jar called a Creme Dentifrice was developed and in 1873 Colgate started offering toothpaste in jars. Colgate introduced its toothpaste in a tube in the 1890s.
Until after 1945 toothpastes contained soap, but after that soap was replaced by other ingredients to make the paste into a smooth paste. In the second half of the twentieth century modern toothpastes were developed to help prevent or treat specific diseases and conditions such as tooth sensitivity. Fluoride toothpastes to help prevent decay were introduced in 1914.
Nowadays the big thing is toothpaste that whitens.
Most toothpastes contain pretty much the same ingredients: fluoride, coloring, flavoring, sweetener and ingredients that make it smooth, foamy and moist.