The History of Brushing Teeth
The habit of brushing two times every day has become so common that few people wonder how it all started. Evidence of dental care and hygiene have been found in excavated human remains from centuries ago, with some artifacts existing as early as 3500 BC. But where did this practice originate and what type of tools did our ancestors use to clean their teeth?
How it All Started: Ancient Toothbrushing Using Chew Sticks
Chew sticks have been found in various locations of ancient civilizations all over the world. These sticks come in different forms, but they are often made from tree bark. The twigs are cut into a sharp toothpick-like form at one end, and bristle-like form at the other. The bristles of chew sticks were used to remove the plaque on teeth surfaces while the pointed end was used to remove food stuck between teeth.
Different civilizations used different kinds of dental-cleaning tools, and they were made from animal bones, bird feathers, porcupine quills and tree twigs. Chew sticks were the most popular teeth-cleaning tools because they were easy to use, cost effective and easy to make while also providing protection for the teeth. Trees with medicinal properties were found to help protect dental health when used as chew sticks.
The First Bristle Toothbrush from China
Around the 7th century, the Chinese developed a new kind of toothbrush that looks similar to the modern day model. It made use of hog bristles taken from Siberian and northern Chinese hogs, attached to a bamboo or bone handle. Because these hogs lived in cool areas, their bristles tended to be harder than species living near the equator. The Chinese spread this kind of tooth-cleaning tool around the world using horsetail bristles and ox-bone handles.
William Addis: Inventor of the Modern Toothbrush
In 1770, a man named William Addis from England was incarcerated. While he was in jail, he created the very first toothbrush that closely resembles the modern-day model. He used a piece of animal bone and drilled some small holes into one end. He tied some bristles together and glued them into the holes. After he got out, Addis created a toothbrush manufacturing company, which made him very rich. His son took over the company when he died in 1808 and their family line managed the company until 1996. Today, the company is known as Wisdom Toothbrushes and produces millions of toothbrushes in the United Kingdom.
Electric Toothbrushes and How They Differ from Manual Models
The first electric toothbrush was created in 1954 in New Zealand. It was similar to the manual model, but the device had a vibrating mechanism that allowed the toothbrush to scrub the teeth more thoroughly. In comparison with a manual toothbrush, the electric toothbrush is more efficient and is easier to use for individuals who have problems with dexterity due to arthritis, muscle or bone related conditions.
How about Toothpaste?
Before the 9th century, toothpaste was formulated by Greeks and Romans using different kinds of substances like crushed shells. These served as the abrasive cleaners that remove plaque from the teeth surface. Then the Persian musician Ziryab created an original formula that was said to be pleasant to the taste and also effective in cleaning teeth, but the ingredients remain unknown.
As years passed, scientists worked on creating the perfect toothpaste formula using experimental ingredients. The toothpaste formula we use today first started as hydrogen peroxide and baking soda, developed in the early 1800s. Calcium fluoride was added as a regular ingredient in toothpaste in the 1890s after scientists have discovered how it benefits dental health.
Today, we are all aware of the importance of cleaning our teeth, but imagine how it was for ancient civilizations. Most of them probably had dental problems and missing teeth because their oral hygiene practices were inefficient compared to modern day dental care. We are lucky that dentists and scientists have developed our modern day toothbrushes and toothpastes. Together with proper dental hygiene, we can have healthy teeth. But don’t forget to visit Rana Dental Clinic at least once every six months to keep your teeth clean and healthy.