Toothbrush and toothpaste

The earliest toothbrushes were simply small sticks mashed and frayed at one end to increase their cleaning surface. Ancient Roman patricians employed special slaves to clean their teeth, and toothbrushing formed part of some ancient religious rituals. The bristle brush was probably invented by the Chinese;it came to Europe during the seventeenth century and soon was widely used. French dentists, who were the most advanced in Europe at the time, advocated the use of toothbrushes in the seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries. In pre-Revolutionary America, dentists urged the use of bristle toothbrushes. Nylon has replaced natural bristles in modern brushes. Hard bristles, once recommended, are now thought to be too abrasive, and soft nylon bristles with rounded ends are preferred. Special brushes have also been designed to remove plaque and debris from relatively large spaces between teeth, or spaces betweencaps and bridges. Dr. Scott's Electric Toothbrush was marketed in 1880; its manufacturer claimed the brush was "permanently charged with electro-magneticcurrent." The first real electric toothbrush was developed in Switzerland after World War II. This corded model was introduced to the United States marketin 1960 by Squibb under the name Broxodent. General Electric followed in 1961 with its rechargeable cordless model. Although it seemed like an odd idea to many people, the electric toothbrush was an immediate success.

Like toothbrushes, compounds for cleaning teeth (and freshening breath) havebeen used since ancient times. Early Egyptian, Chinese, Greek, and Roman writings describe numerous mixtures for both pastes and powders. The more palatable ingredients included powdered fruit, burnt shells, talc, honey, ground shells, and dried flowers. The less appetizing ingredients included mice, the head of a hare, lizard livers, and urine. Powder and paste formulas continued to proliferate through the Middle Ages. Unfortunately, many of these recipes used agents that corroded or abraded the non-replaceable tooth enamel. Moderntoothpastes began to appear in the 1800s. Peabody suggested adding soap to tooth cleaners in 1824, chalk was popularized by John Harris in the 1850s, andsoon the well-known S. S. White Company introduced a paste in a collapsible tube. Dr. Washington W. Sheffield, a Connecticut dentist, put his popular Dr.Sheffield's Creme Dentifrice, in its collapsible tube, on the market in 1892.The toothpaste tube reigned supreme until 1984, when the pump dispenser--which originated in Europe--was introduced to the U.S. market. Fluoride was added to toothpaste in 1956 when Proctor &Gamble launched its Crest product.Home whitening solutions, which utilize hydrogen peroxide, are available to remove discoloring stains from tooth enamel. In 1996, the federal government approved the use of lasers for teeth whitening. This procedure uses laser energy to "excite" the hydrogen peroxide, causing it to expel free radical oxygenwhich "attacks" the organic composition of the stain. Still controversial because of its expense, and the lack of knowledge concerning long-term effect on tooth enamel, this procedure is fast and even has some success at lightening teeth discolored by antibiotic use during pregnancy.

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