Thank goodness we are living in a day and time when our medical concerns can usually be addressed, diagnosed, and eliminated within a few visits to the doctor or dentist. As recently as one hundred years ago, people went to the blacksmith to have teeth pulled—and often this did not turn out very well. There were no antibiotics or novocaine used to make the process easier, and many times these infections resulted in total tooth loss or worse yet, infections in the body that sometimes became fatal.
Thanks to innovators who were always looking to improve our health and the health of our mouths, several inventions surfaced that made tooth care surmountable by almost everyone. Let’s pay homage to these early tooth pioneers and celebrate the arrival of the toothbrush and toothpaste!
History of the Toothbrush
While the brush that we’ve come to know and love today wasn’t invented till around 1938, early forms of tooth cleaning apparatuses have been in existence since around 3000 B.C. Ancient Egyptians employed the use of a chew stick that they used to rub against teeth to remove dirt and debris—and there was plenty of it. As early as 1498, an early version of our modern brush was fashioned in China using stiff hairs from the neck of a boar and fastened to a long section of bone or bamboo. The use of nylon bristles took precedence around 1938, and this gave way to the wonderful invention that scrubs our pearly whites clean!
History of Toothpaste
Leave it to those Egyptians to find another innovation to make life easier—they began using a paste to clean their teeth as early as 500 B.C. These ancient pastes were used to address some of the same issues we face today—cleaning teeth, removing plaque, and keeping breath fresh and clean. Ingredients weren’t so savory as they are today; they included ox hoof ashes, broken eggshells, and pieces of pumice. Sounds delicious, right?
In the 1800s, the modern version of toothpaste began to take shape with the addition of soap and other softeners to make the paste more palatable. As knowledge of dental care grew and knowledge about specific diseases became known to researchers, continued development of pastes to treat and prevent decay became an ongoing process. Products continue to grow and evolve that promise better results and more efficient care to prevent dental degeneration.
A Marriage of the Two
One of the most basic things we can do for proper care and maintenance of our dental health is to brush our teeth. We remain eternally grateful to our early pioneers who wanted to uncover bright and vibrant smiles throughout history, and we raise our brushes and paste in tribute to the clean, fresh, work they have been able to accomplish!