Toothbrush Facts and Trivia from Your Chicago Dentist

We are instructed to use our toothbrushes twice a day, every day. Dr. James Fondriest recommends that you brush your teeth for at least two minutes at a time. If you’re brushing a total of four minutes a day for 365 days a year, you will spend over 1400 minutes with your toothbrush. In a year’s time, you will have spent the equivalent of a full day brushing your teeth.  Although our hygiene is an important part of our daily lives, we often take it for granted. Did you know that teeth cleaning apparatuses have been around for thousands of years? When you compare our modern toothbrush to the crude oral hygiene tools of past civilizations, we bet you will develop a new-found appreciation for your toothbrush.

Historical Toothbrush Trivia

  • As far back as 3500 B.C., Ancient Babylonians used “chewing sticks”—devices similar to a large toothpick—to clean their teeth. Ancient Babylonians found that when they chewed on these sticks, it cleaned their teeth and freshened their breath.
  • Anthropologists estimate that the Chinese implemented a more modern version of the toothbrush between 1400 and 1600 A.D. For bristles, hair was used from hogs’ necks and attached to bamboo sticks.
  • In the 1200’s, monastic communities in China began using ox bone for the toothbrush handle and horse tail hair for the bristles.
  • In the western hemisphere, the toothbrush wasn’t mass produced until 1780 by the Englishman William Addis.
  • Before World War II, many Americans did not regularly brush their teeth. The military required that deployed soldiers brush their teeth every day. When these soldiers returned home from war, their good oral hygiene habits became popular among civilians.

In 2003, a poll was conducted on what invention Americans wouldn’t want to live without. The respondents of the poll overwhelmingly chose the toothbrush. Even though the toothbrush is one of the most important inventions in oral hygiene, you still need dental cleanings to remove tartar buildup. To schedule an appointment, call our Chicago dentist office at (847) 234-0517. We serve patients from Winnetka, Glenview, Highland Park, North Shore, Lake Forest, and the surrounding Chicago communities.

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