Ponderings From the Cave: On Tortillas and Toothbrushes

I had a tortilla the other day that stuck to my teeth like a bat to a cave. Got me to thinking about toothbrushes—I know, the mind is a terrible thing to waste. Nevertheless, I wondered just how long we as a species have been obsessed with removing food from our teeth. This created another Ask Jeeves moment (see post dated 8/6/11).

Apparently, excavations done all over the world since before recorded history point to some kind of oral hygiene. The chew stick, the first toothbrush made in 3000 BC, was the frayed and splayed ends of twigs from the Banyan tree, and the Arak tree, which has antiseptic properties.

In 1223, monks in China cleaned their teeth with brushes made of horse-tail hairs attached to an ox-bone handle. How do you spell pteuw?

William Addis of England is believed to have produced the first mass-produced toothbrush in 1780. He was in prison at the time, and this had something to do with bribing a guard.

Natural animal bristles were replaced by synthetic fibers, usually nylon, by DuPont in 1938. The first electric toothbrush was invented in Switzerland in 1954.

Just in case you wondered. Now, you can go enjoy a tortilla. I’m going back in my cave (and I’m takin’ my toothbrush with me).