Today in history: Modernized toothbrushes stop using swine hair to deliver toothpaste, kill 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 all-natural, 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.