When you hear stories of queens, kings, princesses and princes and how some of them were known for their exceptional beauty and looks, it might amaze you to know that most of them were alien to the concept of brushing their teeth. Now pause for a moment and think of their beauty again complete with black teeth and gaps. It doesn’t have the same effect, does it? This really short experiment proves the theory which dentists have been trying to preach for a long time – your beauty is useless if you have bad teeth. Now if only someone could tell this to the cosmetic companies.
Although a variety of oral hygiene measures have been used over the ages the modern nylon bristle toothbrush wasn’t introduced until 1938. They became widely used by the armed forces in order to maintain health regulations in their battalions. When the Second World War broke out, the soldiers were stationed abroad for so long that brushing the teeth became a habit. After the war was over the survivors brought that habit home with them and both the health and advertising industries capitalised on this moment in history. Government sponsored ads were made to promote using toothpaste and toothbrushes amongst the general population. In fact it was around the same time that the dental colleges saw a major upsurge in students trying to train to be dentists.
The Swiss were always known for their tinkering habits. Their scientists came up with the idea of an electric toothbrush around 1939. Fifteen years down the line, a man going by the name of P.G. Woog introduced his design for a better version in the Alpine country. The American oral hygiene company Squibb purchased the rights to the design from Woog. By the late fifties, a product by the name of Broxodent was introduced in the market by Squibb. It was the first ever brand of electric toothbrushes to be sold to the American public.
The electric toothbrushes that Squibb released had a cord attached to them which could be plugged in to a power source. The power giant General Electric, later introduced a prototype that used a rechargeable battery thus eliminating the cord. The people loved it and the product went off the shelves of the shops very quickly. Needless to say, it was mainly the consumer base in the First World Countries that enjoyed the electric toothbrush. The Third World Nations were still struggling to have economies set up at that time. They kept their teeth clean using manual toothbrushes and other traditional methods.
Squibb kept on selling their product in the US and other North American markets up until the early nineties. The end of the Cold War gave companies like GE a boost in production and though market monopoly, they saw the withdrawal of Squibb from the American scene. On the other side of the Atlantic though, Squibb still sold it’s electric toothbrush under the moniker ‘Broxo’.
Nowadays you can get electric toothbrushes with their own sterilising units and timers to make sure that you brush your teeth for the correct length of time. Marvellous when you think that a few centuries ago people were cleaning their teeth with twigs, bird feathers and animal bones.