Fun Facts About Common Dental Hygiene Tools

Every day, you squeeze a little bit of toothpaste onto your toothbrush and brush your teeth. We hope you do, anyway. We also hope you floss at least once a day as part of your oral hygiene routine. If you eat out at a restaurant, you probably grab a toothpick on your way out to pick the remains of your dinner from between your teeth. During these activities, you may wonder just where these everyday dental tools came from. You may be impressed to learn how long they’ve been around, or you may be surprised by how far they’ve progressed. Dr. Brad Greenfield presents these fun facts about the tools of your oral health.

Toothbrush Facts

  • The first toothbrush was made by the Chinese. The bristles consisted of hair from the necks of cold-climate hogs.
  • William Addis of England invented the first mass-produced toothbrush while in jail for starting a riot. He was unsatisfied with the toothbrushes of the time—rags with soot and salt that one rubbed across the teeth. Addis drilled holes into a small bone, tied together tufts of bristle (which he obtained from a guard), then passed the bristles through the holes and glued them to the bone. After his release from jail, he mass-produced his new toothbrush and died a wealthy man.
  • Most Americans didn’t brush their teeth until after World War II, when Army soldiers brought their enforced dental habits back home.

Toothpaste Facts

  • Toothpaste was used as early as 500 BC in China and India, but modern toothpaste wasn’t developed until the 1800s.
  • In 1824, a dentist named Peabody added soap to toothpaste. In the 1850’s, John Harris added chalk as an abrasive element to aid in the cleaning of teeth, much like baking soda is used today.
  • In 1873, Colgate mass-produced toothpaste in a jar. The collapsible metal tube was first introduced by Dr. Washington Sheffield in 1892, and in 1896, Colgate Dental Cream was packaged in collapsible tubes that imitated Sheffield’s.

Toothpick Facts

  • Toothpicks are the oldest form of personal tooth care. Neanderthal skulls show clear evidence of teeth that were picked with some sort of tool.
  • In the 17th century, toothpicks were luxury items, similar to jewelry. They were formed from precious metals, adorned with expensive stones, and were artistically stylized and enameled.
  • Although dental floss has largely taken the place of toothpicks, the usefulness of the toothpick is underlined in the fact that plastic versions are a standard component of the Swiss Army Knife.

Dentistry has come a long way, and we utilize the culmination of knowledge, skill, and technique to give you the smile of your dreams. To schedule an appointment, contact Dr. Greenfield at Lake Orion Family Dentistry in Lake Orion, Michigan, at (248) 693-6213. We welcome patients from Lake Orion, Oxford, Rochester Hills, Clarkston, and the surrounding communities.