Dental Health
October 3, 2017
Things to know about the toothbrush

The following are things we should know about the toothbrush.

Many of us may not have given a second thought to the instrument used for cleaning our teeth.

It is so common and routine to use the toothbrush, but we may or may not know these things about it:

1. The toothbrush is 5,000 years old. 

In various forms, that is. Ancient civilizations used a “chew stick,” a thin twig with a frayed end, to remove food from their teeth. Over time, toothbrushes evolved and were made from bone, wood or ivory handles and stiff bristles of hogs, boars or other animals. The modern nylon-bristled toothbrush we use today was invented in 1938. 

2. The first mass-produced toothbrush was invented in prison. 

In 1770, an Englishman named William Addis was jailed for inciting a riot. He saw fellow prisoners using a rag covered in soot or salt to clean their teeth. Addis saved an animal bone from dinner and received bristles from a guard. Accounts state he bored tiny holes into the bone, inserted the bristles and sealed them with glue. After his release, he modified his prototype, started a company and manufactured his toothbrush. That company, Wisdom Toothbrushes, still exists in the United Kingdom today.

3. Manual or powered? 

In the manual and powered toothbrush debate, they both work well. You just need to brush twice a day, for at least two minutes with a fluoride toothpaste. Both types of toothbrush can effectively and thoroughly clean your teeth. People who find it difficult to use a manual toothbrush may find a powered toothbrush more comfortable.

4. There is no “correct” order for brushing and flossing.

Brushing before flossing, flossing before brushing—it doesn’t matter, as long as you do both. 

5. Toothbrushes are best left out in the open.

Cleaning your toothbrush is easy: rinse it with tap water to remove any remaining toothpaste and debris. Store it upright and allow it to air dry. If you store your toothbrush with other toothbrushes, make sure they are separated to prevent cross contamination. And do not routinely cover toothbrushes or store them in closed containers. A moist environment, such as a closed container, is more conducive to the growth of unwanted bacteria than the open air. 

6. Lifespan = three to four months

Make sure to replace your toothbrush every three to four months, or sooner, if the bristles are frayed. A worn toothbrush won’t do as good a job of cleaning your teeth. 

7. When it comes to choosing a brush, go soft.

Whether you use a manual or powered toothbrush, choose a soft-bristled brush. Firm or even medium-strength bristles may cause damage to your gums and enamel. When brushing your teeth, don’t scrub vigorously —only brush hard enough to clean the film off your teeth.

8. Remember: two minutes, two times a day.

Four minutes a day goes a long way for your dental health. Put the time in each day to keep your smile healthy and keep up this twice a day habit.

9. Sharing is caring, but not for toothbrushes.

Sharing a toothbrush can mean you’re also sharing germs and bacteria. This could be a particular concern if you have a cold or flu to spread, or you have a condition that leaves your immune system compromised.