Today in history: Modernized toothbrushes stop using swine hair to deliver toothpaste, fight bad breath
SUMMARY: Toothpaste-lovers, rejoice!
Posted: February 24, 2012
Today is a special day in the history of dental care and the fight against bad breath. It was on this day 74 years ago that toothpaste delivery systems took a quantum leap: On February 24, 1938, the first nylon-bristled toothbrush debuted in the U.S.
That might not sound like such a big deal these days. After all, we now have oxygenating, specialty breath freshening technology that makes the invention of the synthetic toothbrush bristle look like child's play. However, as reported by Wired, there's a very good reason why we should celebrate this watershed.
That's because, prior to this date in 1938, toothbrushes were made using pig bristles.
You read that right. Just three-quarters of a century ago - recent enough for some older folks to remember it - toothbrushes were made using boar's bristles embedded in a wooden handle. As you might imagine, this system often resulted in a few pig hairs getting loose in the mouth.
As you can see, the development of the synthetic bristle was something of a revolution in specialty breath care.
The innovation began in 1935 when, according to the news source, DuPont developed nylon, a synthetic fiber designed to replace silk. Before it was used in servicemen's parachutes during the battles of World War II, this fiber served a similarly noble function: battling bad breath by replacing those awful pig's bristles in toothbrushes.
The magazine reported that the road to the modern toothbrush was a bit bumpy. For example, the first synthetic-bristled brushes were too stiff and often caused nicks on the gums. However, the bristles were later made in a softer form, one that's easier on delicate tissues and better for fighting bad breath.
So today, as you load your brush with a specialty oxygenating toothpaste, take a moment to thank your lucky stars you live in a century when the battle against halitosis doesn't involve putting swine whiskers in your mouth.