A Short History of Dental Care

The history of dental care goes back many thousands of years.

While early concepts of dentistry have laid down the foundation for what we know now, it has been within the last couple hundred years where we have really started to push the envelope.

Let’s take a look at some of the most influential discoveries in dentistry and how they helped shape treatments we see today.

The Invention of The Toothbrush

It was the Chinese who came up with the first idea of toothbrushes. They inserted bristles from cold climate pigs from the region and inserted them into carved wood. The first patent, however, wasn’t invented until much later when William Addis, an Englishman, created the first mass-produced toothbrush. The first American to do so was a man by the name of H.N. Wadsworth.

It was his patent that sparked a massive boom in the production of toothbrushes after 1885, and by 1938 the DuPont company made the very first nylon toothbrushes. There is a sense of irony around the American dedication to dental care, considering it was only when troops returned from World War 2 with good brushing habits, that they began to take notice of it.

Who Invented Toothpaste?

The invention of toothpaste can be traced back all the way to 500 BC in India and China respectively, but toothpaste in its modern guise was only really developed during the 19th century. A dentist by the name of Peabody was the first to add soap to toothpaste. Then, John Harris introduced chalk in the 1850s. By 1873 Colgate (who you may have heard of) had begun producing the first toothpaste in a jar and in 1892, we finally see the manufacturing of the collapsible tube that is now so synonymous with brushing your teeth.

The Origins of Dental Floss

The use of dental floss is another dental aid with ancient beginnings, and there has been evidence of the use of dental floss and toothpicks in prehistoric humans. A little nearer our current timeline, is Levi Spear Parmly, the dentist from New Orleans who is widely accepted as the inventor of dental floss. But like many other inventors, his work was expanded upon by a larger corporation. In 1882, the Codman and Shurtleft Company began to produce unwaxed silk floss for use around the home, but the first patent went to The Johnson and Johnson Company (who you also may have heard of).

As you can imagine, we are exceptionally grateful for these contributions to the world of dentistry, and thanks to these inventions we can keep our teeth and gums nice and clean. Obviously, we have come a long way since then and now have some very sophisticated tools to maintain our oral health.

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