A Regular Dental Checkup near Burke, VA is the Cornerstone of Good Oral Health

Toothbrushes and Toothpastes: You Have It Better Than the Ancients

Daily brushing is the cornerstone of good oral health. That’s the message that the staff will tell you when you go in for you dental checkup near Burke, VA, every six months.

You have the power to keep your teeth for a lifetime if you make wise use of your toothbrush. It’s true that the twice-a-year dental checkup near Burke, VA, lets your dentist check for decay and other signs of trouble. But the simple toothbrush is the first line of defense against the ravages of food particles and bacteria.

It’s a message dentists have been hammering home since the profession began. Children and adults today are lucky to have comfortable toothbrushes and good tasting toothpastes. It wasn’t always so.

To help you feel a bit more grateful the next time you are told to brush your teeth more often, here is a look at how toothbrushes and toothpaste have developed over the millennia.

Cleaning Twigs

Mothers, and dentists, clear back in 3500 B.C. were telling children to brush their teeth. The first devices were simply twigs that were frayed at the tip.

The ancient Egyptians and Babylonians considered these early toothbrushes important for health and a cultured approach to life. Brushes have been found next to the dead in Egyptian tombs. As he transitioned to the next life, the mummy could still take care of his teeth!

The Chinese went one better. They used twigs from trees that had a special smell, much like modern day eucalyptus trees. The user could clean his teeth and his breath at the same time.

The First Bristle Brush

Many centuries later, China was the first country to use bristles to clean teeth. They harvested the bristles from the back of a pig’s neck and inserted them into a handle made of bamboo.

This design made its way to Europe. Their people found the pigs’ bristles were too harsh. They switched them out for horse hairs and even feathers. Either way, it was the first toothbrush that somewhat looked like modern day models.

This eventually evolved into a brush that fit comfortably into the hand. An Englishman in the 1780s carved a handle out of bone and added bristles from pigs, though less abrasive ones that the first Chinese models. By the 1840s, the standard toothbrush had three rows of these bristles.

New Types of Bristles

Natural bristles were the only type available until the 1930s. At that point, researchers at Du Pont developed nylon, a synthetic that worked well for a variety of materials. One of the earliest uses was for bristles in toothbrushes. In fact, they were used on the very first electric toothbrush, produced clear back in 1939.

During World War II, the U.S. part of standard military hygiene was regular brushing and flossing. Soldiers brought this habit back with them after the war, influencing family and society at large. Good oral care gained in importance with people of all economic groups. Because the military was using nylon toothbrushes, the majority of Americans started using them.

By the 1950s, Americans had a choice of soft, medium and hard bristles made of nylon. They were used on the first electric toothbrush, produced in 1960. The first one that was rechargeable and cordless came out just a year later, in 1961.

The Modern Toothbrush

The toothbrush has clearly evolved, to every user’s deep appreciation. They now come in many sizes, weights and shapes. There are models specifically for the small mouths of children and for adults with sensitive mouths. At your next dental checkup near Burke, VA, ask the dentist if you are having trouble finding a brush that fits your mouth. He can recommend one that works for your needs.

You can find toothbrushes with handles that are curved, straight, at an angle and contoured. Modern ones have grips and areas made of rubber so they are comfortable to hold and maneuver.

You can choose a brush with bristles labeled very soft, soft, medium and hard. American adults tend to prefer soft and medium versions.

At the drugstore or grocery store near Burke, VA, you can find brushes with heads in a variety of shapes, including round and oblong. The most popular are in the shape of a rectangle, though oval is also common.

The modern toothbrush that your dentist recommends at your dental checkup near Burke, VA, is basically the same as the one ancient Egyptians used. But it has become much more ergonomic, safer to use and more hygienic.

Now here’s a look at what people have been putting on top of their brushes over the centuries to keep teeth clean.

Ancient Toothpaste

Have you looked at all the flavor choices for toothpaste at the grocery store near Burke, VA? You can find mint, cinnamon, eucalyptus, and even flavor-free. Unusual flavors online include cupcake, jasmine, Scotch, eggplant, bacon, chocolate, pickle, curry, licorice, fennel, coffee, pork, pine, champagne, honey bamboo salt, blueberry, Oreo cookie and Coco-Cola.

The ancient Egyptians were confronted with ingredients like ashes, powdered ox hoof, and burnt eggshell, all mixed with pumice. Try that on your tooth enamel! The first medical book was written on papyrus by an ancient Egyptian dentist. Called the Ebers Papyrus, it mentioned several recipes for effective tooth cleaners.

The Greeks and Romans went for oyster shells and bones that had been crushed. Hippocrates, the father of medicine, considered oral health so important that he wrote out recipes for tooth cleaners. They included materials like bark and powdered charcoal for fresher breath. The Chinese also worried about bad breath. They included ginseng and mint in their pastes.

Going Modern

In the 1800s and early 1900s, a common way to discipline children who used swear words was to wash their mouth out with soap. Perhaps that was a natural development from what is considered the first modern tooth cleaner.

First blended in the early 1800s, it contained soap and later chalk. Yuck. Later in the century, betel nut was added, as well as ground charcoal. The use of soap continued right through 1945.

From Powder to Paste

All of these cleaners were powders and most were made by individual dentists. Before toothpastes and cleaners were sold in the marketplace, each dentist put together his own to sell to his patients. When they came in for a dental checkup near Burke, VA, the fee included a pot, jar or bottle of the dentist’s own tooth cleaner.

The first actual paste was mixed in the 1850s in England. Called Crème Dentifrice, it was sold in jars. In the U.S. the Colgate company sold a similar concoction in the 1870s. The first tube toothpaste was developed in the 1890s by a dentist in Connecticut. People loved the convenience and the smoother texture of the paste in the tube. This quickly became the most popular way to package tooth cleaners.

The soap was finally switched out after the 1940s for better tasting and smoother ingredients, like sodium lauryl sulphate. At this point, the ingredient list on toothpaste started reading like a chemistry textbook.

Pastes for All Occasions

Today you can find a range of specialty toothpastes on the market. If you have sensitive teeth, there are pastes just for that. There are toothpastes that help with whitening, tartar control, bad breath and gum disease. If you are looking for a specific type of toothpaste or have special needs, ask the team at Annandale Smiles at your next dental checkup near Burke, VA.

Fluoride was first added clear back in 1914. Dentists noticed that residents of areas where fluoride occurred naturally in the water supply had few, if any, tooth decay. Scientific studies backed them up. That’s why almost all the pastes currently sold in grocery stores have fluoride in them.

Modern toothpastes have come a long way from hooves and burnt eggshells. They have coloring to make them look nice, a range of flavorings to make them taste good and special ingredients to help them foam up, stay moist and spread easily in the mouth. All of this makes it easier for you to brush regularly so your dental checkup near Burke, VA, will show few signs of decay and buildup.

Work with Experts

Annandale Smiles has been serving the local community for many years. Our dentists and staff are experts in explaining the best ways to brush and floss at each dental checkup near Burke, VA. The team here at Annandale has just one mission, to help you keep your teeth for a lifetime of great chewing and smiling.

At each dental checkup near Burke, VA, the dentist can check for signs of plaque buildup, gum disease, and cavities. But if you brush regularly, there will be very few signs of problems. That’s why you constantly hear that you need to brush every day. If you have questions about the best way to handle a toothbrush, ask one of the dentists or staff here at Annandale Smiles. And if you are having difficulties finding a comfortable toothbrush, ask them for recommendations.

At Annandale Smiles, we offer a full range of dental services for every member of the family. We are truly a one-stop dentist shop for children, teens, adults and seniors. Our services include:

  • Cosmetic dentistry
  • Porcelain veneers
  • Tooth-colored fillings
  • Teeth whitening
  • Dental implants
  • Dentures and partials
  • Fountain of Youth dentures
  • Invisalign
  • Six-month Smiles
  • Preventive dentistry
  • Root canals
  • Gum care
  • Infection control
  • TMJ care
  • Sedation dentistry
  • Metal-free crowns

To schedule your dental checkup near Burke, VA, call the experts at Annandale Smiles today.