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Brush Those Chompers, Kids!

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Hey, Camp Fans!

Do you ever find yourself wondering about the origin of some inventions? When it was invented. And why? We do here at Everything Summer Camp. We offer a number of items that have interesting back stories, which is why I like to take a day here and there on this Blog to investigate the origins of specific gear and other camp supplies.

Today: the toothbrush.

People have been doing the best to their abilities for about as long as history can tell us to make some attempt at dental hygiene. Artifacts that date back well over 5000 years ago have been found and recorded as ‘chew sticks’. People would use pretty much whatever was around. A twig or branch was typical to chew on and work around in the mouth.

Roughly 1400 years ago, the first bristle brush came around. Invented in China, Tiny holes were bored into a hard-handled object—likely bone or bamboo—and then coarse horse tail or hog hair was inserted into the holes. Yep. You read that right. People actually brushed their teeth with animal hair! Hogs in Northern China grew very coarse hair to protect themselves against the cold climate which made for sturdy brushing material.  

This may seem pretty primitive compared to our modern methods, but, if you ask me, I’d rather brush my teeth with animal hair than do what they were doing in Europe at the time!

These guys rolled rags in salt or soot and then proceeded to rub their teeth with these rags! In the year 1780, an Englishman by the name of William Addis is credited as the inventor of the modern toothbrush. Jailed over a dispute that grew out of hand, Mr. Addis found himself in a dim-lit and dirty jail cell where he sat with horrible breath. Inspiration struck him along with the recognition of his breath problem.

He pried up a bone that was embedded in his jail cell floor, somehow managed to drill holes into it and was able to get bristles from one of his jailers that recognized Addis’ invention as something to benefit mankind. The material of the bristles is unknown, but it certainly wasn’t animal hair. Eventually nylon became the choice material to use and this allowed for cheap, mass-production.

Even so, daily dental hygiene wasn’t practiced as a popular habit until after World War II when soldiers brought the required dental regimen back home with them. Can you imagine the breath they had before then? Remember to brush your teeth, kids! It brightens your smile, cleans up your mouth’s odor, and you don’t have to do it with animal hair anymore!

Everything Summer Camp is proud to promote the habit by providing the very awesome and very first portable, battery-operated toothbrush from VIOlife. Vibrating at more than three times the speed of the fastest electric toothbrush, the Slim Sonic brush is fun to use and habit-forming! Check it out right here and, as always, thanks for reading!


- John

Posted in History Lessons


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