Manual Toothbrush and Electric Toothbrush Guide

girl brushing her teeth with a toothbrush Simply put, toothbrushes are brushes that are used to clean teeth.  The toothbrush was patented in the United States in 1850, but was not widely used until World War II when American soldiers were required to brush their teeth each day.  Today, most of us start and end our days by brushing our teeth with a toothbrush and toothpaste.

We should be thankful for the modern toothbrush and toothpaste, because teeth cleaning precursors were not nearly as effective — or pleasant.  Small twigs fashioned with frayed ends did the job for the early Egyptians, while knife points and toothpicks had to do for those in the Middle Ages.  Toothpaste included such unpalatable ingredients as ground pumice stone and strong vinegar.  In fact, it wasn't until the 19th century that toothpaste had ingredients that actually did more good than harm.

manual toothbrush During the 11th century, something remotely resembling modern toothbrushes came into being when the Chinese attached hog bristles to bamboo.  Toothbrush bristles continued to be made from boar hair bristles until the 1930s, when Du Pont began to manufacture nylon filaments.  Today, modern toothbrush bristles are still made from flexible nylon filaments and are available in different levels of flexibility.  Toothbrushes with soft bristles are fairly pliable, while toothbrushes with hard bristles are stiffer.  Toothbrushes with medium bristles offer a popular compromise between pliability and stiffness.  While in most cases, the type of bristles you choose comes down to personal preference, most dentists suggest toothbrushes with gentler bristles.

Some toothbrushes also have specially angled heads, which are designed to clean hard-to-reach areas, while still others have colored indicators that let you know when they need replacing.  Interdental toothbrushes are available for cleaning around dental bridges, braces, and wide interdental spaces.  Other specialty toothbrushes include denture brushes (for dentures), end-tufted brushes (for difficult-to-reach areas), sulcus brushes (for cleaning along gumlines), and v-shaped orthodontic brushes (for removing plaque around braces).  Some brushes are made of natural, instead of synthetic, materials, and there are even special toothbrushes for left-handed people!

In addition to manual toothbrushes, electric toothbrushes are becoming more and more popular.  Some of these toothbrushes employ a sonic technology, which gives teeth and gums a deep cleaning and is advertised to cut down on plaque and gum disease.  These toothbrushes are often configured so that each brushing session is timed to two minutes, taking the guesswork out of how long you should brush your teeth!

When all is said and done, a toothbrush is a pretty simple device, but that hasn't stopped personal appliance and oral care product manufacturers from developing a multitude of toothbrush styles designed to suit a wide variety of needs and personal preferences.  On, you can learn about manual and electric toothbrushes; our visitors can also find links to toothbrush manufacturers and dental care information.

Toothbrush Manufacturers

  • Oral-B
    This dental care products firm offers manual toothbrushes and power toothbrushes.
  • Philips Sonicare
    Manufactures power toothbrushes with dynamic cleaning action and a toothpaste dispensing system.
  • Radius Toothbrush
    Makes a classic toothbrush with wide oval head, thumb grip, and large, comfortable handle.
  • Dr. Fresh
    Offers a series of oral care and dental care products, including travel toothbrushes and natural toothpaste.

Dental Care Information

electric toothbrush
  • Crest
    Dental care products, professional resources, and home oral care information.
  • Colgate Toothbrushes
    Comprehensive resource for toothbrush and oral health information as well as various oral care products.
  • ADA – Mouth Healthy
    This information about cleaning your teeth and gums is sponsored by the American Dental Association, a professional association of dentists committed to the public's oral health, ethics, science, and professional advancement.

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Toothbrushes - Toothbrush Guide - Electric Toothbrushes

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