Different Strokes for Different Folks: A History of the Toothbrush
ORAL B tufts and Lucite handles
Several significant advances in toothbrush construction occurred in the mid 1900s. In 1950, after witnessing gum damage suffered by patients using nylon bristle brushes, Dr. Robert Hutson, a retired Navy periodontist, developed a softer-bristled toothbrush he named the Oral-B 60. He put very thin, flexible nylon filaments into compact tufts composed of forty bristles, and filled the brush head with 60 tufts. His tuft texture and configuration differed from other contemporary brushes where stiffer nylon bristles arranged in widely spaced tufts were used.
In 1951, another design breakthrough occurred when DuPont invented Lucite acrylic resin, and clear plastic toothbrush handles of different colors appeared.
Hyson, Jr., JM 2003 History of the toothbrush. J Hist Dent 51(2):73-80; “Ipana” Wikipedia: The Free Encyclopedia. Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., 23 Nov. 2016. Web. 23 Nov. 2016; Mattick, BE 2010 A Guide to Bone Toothbrushes of the 19th and Early 20th Centuries. Bloomington, IN: Xlibris Corp.
Oral B toothbrush 1957 ad
This 1957 Oral B ad claims to offer a safe, gentle and effective brushing solution that prevents tooth loss from gum disorder.
Courtesy of Duke University Libraries Digital Collections
Oral B toothbrush 1973 ad
This 1973 Oral-B ad announces minimum tooth abrasion and maximum gum stimulation in their design.
University of the Pacific Permanent Collection, (1973 Contact Point Vol 51, No 1)
This mid-20th-century Bristol-Myers toothbrush with an acrylic handle (A342.103) advertises Ipana toothpaste, first formulated by the company in 1901 and popularized by Disney’s Bucky Beaver in the 1950s.
University of the Pacific Permanent Collection, Donor: Estate of Douglas Kerr, DDS