Saturday, June 6, 2009


Did you ever wonder what your grandparents used for a tooth brush, if they used a brush at all? When did tooth brushing come into the picture? Before history was written although not with the type of toothbrush our children use.

As a kid, mother always bought ones with really stiff bristles. She did that because I chewed on the brush, (probably to make it softer), and she thought the stiff ones would last longer. Now, only soft brushes are recommended and if your gums are bleeding from those brushes there is possibly something greater going on it your mouth.

Now they have a nice word for the plaque build up around and under the gum. Mother called it 'trench mouth'. Bleck.

Anyway, let's get back to tooth brushes. The first toothbrush to resemble the modern toothbrush is believed to have been invented in China in the late 1400s, which used the stiff hairs from a hog's neck, attached to a bamboo stick. Can you imagine that?

Moving right along....A man name Addis was jailed for starting a riot in England. While there, he made a toothbrush out of a bone in which he made holes. He got hair from the guard and strung it through the holes, tied and glued it. It was about 1760, he would be released from jail and become a wealthy man. Previously, soot and salt were used.

Mass production of the product in America only started in 1885. The rather advanced design had a bone handle with holes bored into it for the Siberian Boar hair bristles. The problem was two fold, the bristles fell out and the hair bristles didn't dry causing bacteria to build up.

Toothbrushes as we know them today with synthetic bristles are a patent of the Dupont Company in the late thirties.

Now, my question was, what did my grand parents use? What I have learned is the very idea of daily tooth brushing, (or brushing one's teeth multiple times a day), didn't catch on until WWII. Part of the soldiers daily hygiene was to brush their teeth. They brought the practice home to their families. That is when regular brushing started.

Although, as adults, we take brush to enamel, rinse, floss, dig, scrape, and all other capers, some of us, or the children of some of us have wet a toothbrush and laid it on the sink, so when our parent's asked if we brush, we could we did, followed by if you don't believe me feel the brush. Oh, you never did that? Your kids never tried to pull that one off?

Tom said he was always reminded and never did the wet brush trick and he always used tooth paste. Of course.

As for grandparents, well, they had false teeth by the time I was born, but that is a different story for a different day.



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