"Bid them wash their faces and keep their teeth clean."
By: William Shakespeare
It is expected that an average person will brush their teeth 40,000 times during their lifetime. The reason why we brush our teeth is to protect ourselves from bacteria that cause cavities and other gum diseases, which can sometimes be chronic or fatal.
Structure of the the Tooth
The tooth has 3 layers: Enamel, Dentin and Pulp.
The outermost layer is a hard shell is called enamel. It is stronger than the bone and the hardest substances in the human body. However, unlike other bones in our body, once the enamel is damaged, it does not regrow. Therefore, it is super important that we take good care of our teeth.
Underneath the enamel is dentin which is not as hard as enamel because it contains microscopic tubes. When enamel is damaged and eroded to the level of the dentin, the tooth becomes more sensitive to hot and cold sensations, and is generally more sensitive to pain.
Finally, underneath the dentin is a pulp which consist of nerves and blood vessels. When the pulp is exposed, this can quickly turn into a dental emergency. Thus, the who purpose of dental care is to prevent this from happening.
What products did our ancestors use to brushed their Teeth?
Brushing teeth is not a new concept; in fact it dates back to the beginning of human society. Egyptian first developed dental cream as far back as 3000- 5000 BC. It was not a paste, it was actually tooth powder made of oxen hooves, myrrh, burnt egg shells, and pumice.
The ancient Greeks and Romans upgraded the recipe adding crushed bones and oyster shells as an abrasive with natural flavors like natural mint.
Around 500 BC China and India were also using powder as well. The Chinese herbalists added herbs to make it more palatable.
Evolution of Toothpaste?
1824: A dentist named Peabody added soap to toothpaste. Soap was later replaced by chemical sodium lauryn sulfate (SLS) to create a smooth paste.
1850's: During this time, toothpaste became popular. Chalk and Salt toothpowder were commonly used. The other recipe was Toothpaste made of glycerine and gun powder and was sold in jars.
1873: Colgate launched the first commercial toothpaste and sold it in a jar.
1892: Dr. Sheffield father and son invented toothpaste in a tube. They were inspired by the artist using paints coming out of a tube.
1896: Colgate started putting Toothpaste in a tube, tubes were made of metals and with a key to squeeze out every single ounce of toothpaste.
1914: Fluoride is added to toothpastes after discovering it significantly decreased dental cavities.
History and Evolution of Toothbrush
In the ancient days people used rags, fingers or twig to brush their teeth.
The first Toothbrush was invented by Chinese during the Tang dynasty, it had a bamboo handle and bristles made of hog hair, which is basically the design that is common today. Japanese used horse hair as a bristle.
The first mass-produced toothbrush was made by William Addis while he was in a prison around 1780. He was using rag to clean his teeth but was not satisfied with the result, so he used bone from the left over supper and persuaded guards to buy some bristles. He then would create holes and glue the bristles to the bone and, thus, the modern toothbrush was born.
Toothbrushes were super expensive and even if people could afford the brushes, they would share it with other family members. It wasn't until around the time of World War II and the development of nylon that the modern toothbrush was affordable for the common person.
The mouth is one of the most personal and sensitive parts of our body. The main goal of oral care back then was the same as it is now – to freshen breath, whiten teeth, as well as to remove plaque and food residue. Although we are definitely getting better tooth care and better tasting toothpaste products than our predecessors did, we need constant oral care and attention because even good teeth can decay if neglected.