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Toothbrush Replacement

The Most Important Things to Know About Your Toothbrush

Consider the humble toothbrush. It’s one of the most important tools used to preserve our oral health, yet most people seldom give it any thought. Even while actively brushing their teeth, most people don’t think about their toothbrush, but instead ponder on other thoughts.  

Your Marco Island, Florida-area dentist thinks that you should pay a bit more attention to your toothbrush, so we’re going to tell you everything you probably didn’t know about it. And along with some history and fun facts, we’ll reveal the absolute most important thing you need to know about your toothbrush.

Almost Half the World’s Population Doesn’t Use a Toothbrush

Depending upon who’s doing the counting, between 3.5 billion 4.5 billion toothbrushes are produced and sold worldwide annually. With a global population nearing eight billion, this suggests that almost half the world’s population does not use a toothbrush due to lack of access or proper oral health education.

However, we assume that many people who do not own a toothbrush resort to other teeth cleaning measures similar to those practiced before the first toothbrush was invented. Twigs known as chew sticks, with a frayed end for brushing and a pointed end for picking, have been in use worldwide since at least 3500 B.C. Ancient Sumerian, Egyptian, Greek, Roman, and Chinese civilizations all utilized this toothbrush precursor, and its use remains widespread in Africa and in many Middle Eastern countries.

The use of a cloth combined with any number of cleaning materials is another long popular teeth cleaning method. In the United Kingdom, many people cleaned their teeth with a soot and salt-covered cloth or rag until the modern toothbrush became popular.  

First Bristle Toothbrush Invented in China    

The first known bristle toothbrush was invented and enjoyed widespread use in China during the 619-907 A.D. Tang Dynasty. Made by attaching hog or horse-hair bristles to a bone, bamboo, or ivory handle, the Chinese toothbrush was first brought to Europe as a trade good in the 13th century A.D. By the 17th century it was being used across Europe and continued to be a trade good until the mid 20th century. 

An Englishman is credited with inventing the first mass-produced toothbrush in the late 1700s. While serving a jail term for inciting a riot, William Addis drilled some holes in a bone, through which he pulled tufts of bristle, and then sealed into place with glue. Upon his release, he adopted his idea using Industrial Revolution mass production principles and became a rich man. His company, now called Wisdom Toothbrushes, continues to produce 70 million toothbrushes per year.      

America Innovates Toothbrush

Mass production of toothbrushes in the United States did not begin until 1885, and daily teeth brushing by the public did not become routine until popularized by U.S. World War II soldiers who cleaned theirs as part of their daily hygiene regimen. Prior to World War II, American companies, such as Dupont, had been developing new toothbrushes made of celluloid handles and nylon bristles. And today, most toothbrushes are made of nylon bristles and thermoplastic handles. 

What You Need to Know About Your Toothbrush

Now that you know how your toothbrush became a small but integral part of your daily life, here’s the most important thing you need to know about it: Replace it regularly.

Actually, the most important thing you need to know is that it should be used regularly (at least twice a day in two-minute sessions, preferably), but we assume that you already know that. 

Anyhow, daily brushing takes a toll on those nylon bristles and over time they fray, fan out, and break down, which limits their effectiveness in removing plaque and otherwise cleaning your teeth. Additionally, a toothbrush with compromised bristles can damage your gums, and, over time, bacteria and fungus tends to build up on your toothbrush.  The American Dental Association recommends replacing your toothbrush every three months. You should also replace your toothbrush after you’ve had a cold to prevent the risk of reinfection.

Learn More About Your Oral Care at Island Tower Dentistry

If you would like to learn more tips about maintaining the best dental health, Island Tower Dentistry’s Dr. Jonathan Van Dyke would be happy to discuss your specific oral health needs during an examination. Contact Island Tower Dentistry today at 239-394-1004 to make an appointment!

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