Toothbrushes help reduce dental plaque build-up, keep the gums healthy, and reduce dental trips to the dentist. These items look ordinary today, but that hasn’t always been the case. If anything, it wasn’t until the middle of the 20th century that brushing teeth became popular in the United States of America. Here are some interesting toothbrush facts to make your day.

1. The First Version of Toothbrushes Were Chewable

Even before the invention of the toothbrush, people took some hygienic measures to keep their teeth clean. These included using animal bones, porcupine quills, and bird feathers. Over time, the first version of toothbrushes came to be; they were chewable, hence the name chew sticks. Most were twigs from trees with frayed ends used to remove plaques from teeth.

2. Kelly Hardy Holds the Record for the Largest Toothbrush Collection

Canadian Kelly Hardy holds the record for the largest toothbrush collection. On March 9, 2023, the Mississauga-based Kelly set the record at 1,618 toothbrushes, which she collected over 30 years. She doesn’t use any items from her collection to clean her teeth. In an interview, Kelly Hardy stated she does not keep electric toothbrushes as their batteries degrade over time.

3. China Used the First Version of Toothbrushes Resembling the Modern Ones

Archaeological evidence shows China was the first to use bristle toothbrushes resembling modern ones. These toothbrushes, which existed during the Tang dynasty’s reign from 619 to 907, consisted of hog bristles sourced from northern China and Siberia. Their handles were made from bones or bamboo.

4. William Addis Produced the First Mass-Produced Toothbrushes

William Addis, an English entrepreneur from Clerkenwald, England, initiated the mass production of toothbrushes in 1780. Interestingly, Addis did this while in prison, as he was jailed for causing a riot a decade earlier. He observed that the rags with soot and salt used to clean teeth were not as effective, hence his invention.

5. Over a Billion Toothbrushes Are Thrown Away Annually in the United States

Toothbrushes are very common globally nowadays. Billions are manufactured, distributed, and sold to satisfy their never-ending demands. With an average lifecycle of three months, studies show that over a billion toothbrushes are thrown away annually in the United States.

6. H.N. Wadsworth Patented the First Toothbrush

While William Addis was the first to mass-produce and sell toothbrushes in the United Kingdom, H.N. Wadsworth patented the first toothbrush on November 7, 1857. His patent number was 18,653.

7. Toothbrushes Became Popular in the 20th Century

Even with the invention of toothbrushes made of bone handles, people did not use them regularly until after the Second World War. The American soldiers had to clean their teeth daily, popularizing the idea. Interestingly, tooth decay was among the top 10 reasons army recruits were rejected.

8. Different Types of Toothbrushes Are Available

Following the evolution of toothbrushes from the ancient ones with bone handles, a variety of these items are available today. The most common ones include electric, interdental, end-tuft, musical, and chewable toothbrushes. Additionally, there are toothbrushes with soft, medium, or hard bristles.

9. Covering Toothbrushes Make Them Susceptible to Germs and Bacteria

While covering toothbrushes with caps sounds like a perfect idea, dentists warn that doing so isn’t caring for the items. They say the lids trap moisture that aids the growth of microbes, which can be unhealthy.

10. The Blob of Toothpaste on a Toothbrush Is Known As a Nurdle

The piece of toothpaste on a toothbrush is called a nurdle. Meanwhile, the colored sections of a toothbrush are referred to as indicator bristles. They signal the user when it’s time to change the toothbrush (the color diminishes).

11. The First Electric Toothbrush Was Not Electric

While Dr. Phillippe G. Woog is credited with inventing the first actual electric toothbrush, the first version created by Dr. Scott, an English doctor, and advertised as electric in 1880, wasn’t really one. Instead, it had a magnetized iron rod handle, which, to be fair, was different from the others.

12. ADA-Approved Toothbrushes Are Mostly Preferred

Through its Seal of Acceptance, the American Dental Association (ADA) is the body tasked with evaluating and ensuring the quality standards of toothbrushes are met in the United States of America. Consumers, therefore, prefer ADA-approved toothbrushes because they are effective, safe, and reliable.

13. There Is a Version of Toothbrushes Known As “Miswak”

Miswak is a tooth-cleaning stick found in Africa, especially in Kenya. It is made from the Salvadora Persia tree and effectively controls the formation and activity of dental plaque. Moreover, it is widely available, inexpensive, and may contain some medical properties.

14. Most Modern Toothbrushes Are Blue

Research shows that most toothbrushes worldwide are blue. Red is the second most common color.

15. A Toothbrush Is Considered an Essential

Today, a toothbrush is considered an essential; this is clear by the amount of toothbrushes produced annually. It ranks among the best inventions made by humankind, surpassing the likes of cars, cell phones, microwaves, and computers.

16. There Is A Toothbrush Moustache

There is a style of mustache called the toothbrush mustache. People style their mustaches to match the width of their noses, resembling the bristles on a toothbrush. Public figures to have held this style include Charlie Chaplin and Adolf Hitler.

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Last Update: November 15, 2023