The toothbrush is an oral hygiene instrument used to clean the teeth and gums that consists of a head of tightly clustered bristles mounted on a handle, which facilitates the cleansing of hard-to-reach areas of the mouth. Toothpaste, which often contains fluoride, is commonly used in conjunction with a toothbrush to increase the effectiveness of tooth brushing. Toothbrushes are available with different bristle textures, sizes and forms. Most dentists recommend using a toothbrush labelled "soft", since hard bristled toothbrushes can damage tooth enamel and irritate the gums. Toothbrushes have usually been made from synthetic fibers since they were originally developed,[clarification needed] although animal bristles are still sometimes used.
A variety of oral hygiene measures have been used since before recorded history. This has been verified by various excavations done all over the world, in which chew sticks, tree twigs, bird feathers, animal bones and porcupine quills were recovered.
A recent archaeological dig has found that the earliest use of toothbrushes may have occurred in India and Africa. It was discovered that a bristle toothbrush had been used there as early as 1600 B.C.
The first bristle toothbrush found was in China during the Tang Dynasty (619–907) and used hog bristle. In 1223, Japanese Zen master Dōgen Kigen recorded on Shōbōgenzō that he saw monks in China clean their teeth with brushes made of horse-tail hairs attached to an ox-bone handle. The bristle toothbrush spread to Europe, brought back from China to Europe by travellers. It was adopted in Europe during the 17th century. Many mass-produced toothbrushes, made with horse or boar bristle, were imported to England from China until the mid-20th century.
In Europe, William Addis of England is believed to have produced the first mass-produced toothbrush in 1780. In 1770, he had been jailed for causing a riot; while in prison he decided that the method used to clean teeth – at the time rubbing a rag with soot and salt on the teeth – was ineffective and could be improved. To that end, he saved a small animal bone left over from the meal he had eaten the previous night, into which he drilled small holes. He then obtained some bristles from one of his guards, which he tied in tufts that he then passed through the holes in the bone, and which he finally sealed with glue. After his release, he started a business that would manufacture the toothbrushes he had built, and he soon became very rich. He died in 1808, and left the business to his eldest son, also called William; the company was continuing, as of the middle of August 2012, to do business under the name of Wisdom Toothbrushes. By 1840 toothbrushes were being mass-produced in England, France, Germany, and Japan. Pig bristle was used for cheaper toothbrushes, and badger hair for the more expensive ones.
The first patent for a toothbrush was by H. N. Wadsworth in 1857 (US Patent No. 18,653) in the United States, but mass production in the United States only started in 1885. The rather advanced design had a bone handle with holes bored into it for the Siberian boar hair bristles. Unfortunately, animal bristle was not an ideal material as it retains bacteria and does not dry well, and the bristles often fell out. In addition to bone, sometimes handles were made of wood or ivory. In the United States, brushing teeth did not become routine until after World War II, when American soldiers had to clean their teeth daily.
During the 1900s, celluloid handles gradually replaced bone handles in toothbrushes. Natural animal bristles were also replaced by synthetic fibers, usually nylon, by DuPont in 1938. The first nylon bristle toothbrush, made with nylon yarn, went on sale on February 24, 1938. The first electric toothbrush, the Broxodent, was invented in Switzerland in 1954. As of the turn of the 21st century, nylon had come to be widely used for the bristles, and the handles were usually molded from thermoplastic materials.
Johnson & Johnson, a leading medical-supplies firm, introduced the "Reach" toothbrush in the middle 1980s. It differed from previous toothbrushes in three ways: First, it had an angled head, similar to dental instruments, to reach back teeth; second, the bristles were concentrated more closely than usual to clean each tooth of potentially carigenic (cavity-causing) materials; and third, the outer bristles were longer and softer than the inner bristles, to clean between teeth. The Reach toothbrush was the first to have a specialized design intended to increase its effectiveness. Other models, from other manufacturers, soon followed; each of these had unique design features intended to be, and promoted as being, more effective than the basic toothbrush design that had been employed for years.
Types of toothbrush 
Chewable toothbrush 
A chewable toothbrush is a miniature plastic moulded toothbrush that can be used when no water is available. They tend to be very small, but should not be swallowed. They are most commonly available from bathroom vending machines. They are available in different flavors such as mint or bubblegum and should be disposed of after use. Other types of disposable toothbrushes include those that are a small breakable plastic ball of toothpaste on the bristles, can be used without water and prove to be quite handy to travelers.
Ecological toothbrushes 
Traditionally, toothbrushes are made of plastic. Such brushes constitute a small source of pollution. In order to reduce the environmental impact, some manufacturers have switched to using biodegradable materials and/or use replaceable heads.
Interdental brush 
An interdental brush, also called an interproximal brush or a proxy brush, is a small brush, typically disposable, either supplied with a reusable angled plastic handle or an integral handle, used for cleaning between teeth and between the wire of dental braces and the teeth. Brushes are available in a range of widths, color-coded as per ISO 16409. Interdental brushes are classified according to ISO standard 16409:2006. The ISO brush sizes range from 1 to 7. The ISO brush size is determined by the PHD or Passage Hole Diameter in mm. This PHD is the minimum diameter of a hole that the interdental brush will pass through without deforming the brush wire stem.
|Brush Color||Brush Size||Wire Size||Passage Hole Diameter (PHD)|
|Red||2||0.5mm||0.9 mm-1.0 mm|
|Blue||3||0.6mm||1.1 mm-1.2 mm|
|Yellow||4||0.7mm||1.3 mm-1.5 mm|
|Green||5||0.8mm||1.6 mm-1.8 mm|
End-tufted brush 
An end-tufted brush is a type of toothbrush used specifically for cleaning along the gumline adjacent to the teeth. The bristles are usually shaped in a pointed arrow pattern to allow closer adaptation to the gums. An end-tufted brush is ideal for cleaning specific difficult-to-reach areas, such as between crowns, bridgework and crowded teeth. End-tufted brushes may also be used around fixed orthodontic appliances, such as braces.
See also 
- "Oral Longevity," American Dental Association brochure (PDF), page 2 Retrieved June 12, 2008
- Sammons, R. (2003). "Control of dental plaque". Medical biofilms detection, prevention and control. Chichester: John Wiley & Sons. p. 223. ISBN 978-0-471-98867-0.
- Kumar, Jayanth V. (2011). "Oral hygiene aids". Textbook of preventive and community dentistry (2nd ed.). Elsevier. pp. 412–413. ISBN 978-81-312-2530-1.
- Harris, Norman O. (ed); García-Godoy, Franklin, ed. (1999). Primary preventive dentistry (5th ed.). Stamford: Appleton & Lange. ISBN 978-0-8385-8129-2.
- "Who invented the toothbrush and when was it invented?". The Library of Congress. 2007-04-04. Retrieved 2008-04-12.
- Stay, Flora Parsa (2005). The fibromyalgia dental handbook: A practical guide to maintaining peak dental health. New York: Marlowe & Company. p. 118. ISBN 978-1-56924-401-2.
- Olmert, Michael (1996). Milton's Teeth and Ovid's Umbrella: Curiouser & Curiouser Adventures in History, p.62. Simon & Schuster, New York. ISBN 0-684-80164-7.
- History of Dentistry and Dental Care
- The company founded by Addis in 1780
- "Toothbrushes - American Dental Association". ADA.org. 2010-02-04. Retrieved 2013-05-03.
- Retrieved 2008-04-12. "Who invented the toothbrush and when was it invented?" The Library of Congress. 2007-04-04.
- "2003 Invention Index". 2003-01-21. Retrieved 2009-05-20.
- Toothbrushes make up 50 million pounds of plastics discarded in landfill per year in the USA alone
- Amount of toothbrushes per year for USA
- Radius toothbrush
- Cebra Online
- Smile Brite
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to: Toothbrush|
- Interdental Brushes for Better Oral Care
- American Dental Association statements on Toothbrushing
- International Toothbrush Collection, a searchable database
- BBC h2g2 The History of Toothpaste and Toothbrushes
- Selecting a Toothbrush