What separates us from the rest of the animal kingdom and the British? That’s absolutely right, the toothbrush. If you’re anything like us, you are constantly brushing your teeth. We are driven by an obsessive compulsive fear because we know poor oral hygiene has been correlated with not only gum disease and cavities, but also more serious health problems such as heart disease and an increased risk of stroke.
We wanted to take a moment to sincerely thank whatever caveman (or cavewoman) who first had the brilliant idea to take some foreign object, jam it into their face, and poke around.
The first “toothbrushes” were actually just sticks people chewed on, called, get this, chew sticks. They featured frayed ends that were used to brush the teeth. The earliest archaeological evidence of chew sticks dates to 3500 BC.
More modern looking bristled toothbrushes didn’t come along until the 7th century during the Tang Dynasty in China. These first toothbrushes employed the use of hog bristles attached to a handle of either bamboo or bone. This design eventually made its way to Europe during the 17th century, with the word “toothbrush” showing up in print for the first time in 1690. However, most Europeans preferred the softer bristles of horses to those of pigs.
The first mass produced toothbrush was invented in England in 1770 by William Addis while he was in prison for starting a riot. Prior to formulating his toothbrush, he had been using a rag with soot and salt to clean his teeth. Upon his release, he made a fortune by founding a toothbrush manufacturing business that continues to this day as Wisdom Toothbrushes.
In the United States, toothbrushing didn’t actually become routine until after World War II. Returning GI’s were the ones who actually got America brushing regularly, having been made to routinely clean their teeth by their superiors during service. We have no idea what Britain’s excuse remained.
In the 1970s, toothbrush technology really began to take off. The basic design that had lasted for centuries got a big update. In 1977, Johnson and Johnson introduced the Reach toothbrush, the first to feature specialized design to increase effectiveness. Since then, dozens of unique designs have surfaced, from the interdental brush to the electric toothbrush.
It may be hard to remember to brush your teeth everyday, but how often would you forget if you had a tattoo of a toothbrush? We’ve collected some pics of individuals who just needed a little extra reminder in the oral health department in hopes that you remember to clean those chompers before bed tonight. So sit back, think about your poor oral hygiene, and enjoy these pictures of toothbrush tattoos.
I don’t know about you, but looking at those tattoos made my mouth feel dirty. If you’ll excuse me, I’ve got an obsessive compulsion to excise.