Think about your toothbrush. The one you have now, versus the one you had as a kid. How much has your preferred brush changed since you were a child?
Depending on how old you are, you’ve probably seen some change in the handle and bristles to make the classic toothbrush more ergonomic as well as guarantee better access to the hard-to-reach cracks and crevices in your mouth.
And here, some of us just thought the fancy shapes were about marketing!
Just like with all things, toothbrushes are always changing, and designers are pushing the envelope to create a product that is not only efficient but, yes, also visually appealing. And while no one is designing their bathroom around the aesthetics of their toothbrush (or, at least, no one we’ve met) there are new brushes on the market that you’ll never be embarrassed to leave on the counter.
In fact, some brushes can become quite the conversation pieces. Let’s take a look.
First, the history of the toothbrush
To thoroughly appreciate our evaluation of the toothbrush, let’s remember where it all began. The first toothbrush was actually not a brush at all. In fact, the inventive Egyptians in 5000 BC were thought to have used their index finger covered in a mixture called “tooth powder” to clean their teeth.
From there, the Babylonians used the first recorded tool to take care of their teeth—the chewing stick. This tool was not something you’d want on the counter, though. The stick was just a small branch with a frayed end that cleaned teeth and scraped out food from between the teeth. The frayed end was eventually replaced by animal hairs; however, the hairs were not as effective as a chewing stick, so many people relied instead on a tooth pick—similar to what we have today—for their oral health needs.
Then, the early twentieth century is when new fabrics like nylon were introduced into toothbrush manufacturing. Nylon bristles were softer than animal hair and protected the sensitive tissues in the gum line. After this evolution, major changes focused on visual aesthetics. Keep reading to learn about the new and innovative features toothbrushes have today!
Stands up to germs
If you store your toothbrush in a holder on your bathroom counter, then you probably have been seriously disgusted by the grime and filth that can accumulate at the bottom!
In a 2011 study, the toothbrush holder was named the third most germ-infected place in your home. In fact, according to the study, the only places in your home with more germs include the kitchen sink and that dish sponge you should have thrown away a month ago. Residue can hide bacteria, viruses and coliforms (Salmonella and E. coli), even if sterilized in your dishwasher. Toothbrush holders (especially the “cup-style” holders) are often cavernous and hard to clean. With that in mind, designers Hyun Jin Yoon and Eun Hak at Dews Toothbrush created a toothbrush that stands up on its own—getting rid of the need for a toothbrush holder all together! The handle of the Dews Toothbrush is weighted and shaped with a rounded end so that it balances on its base, keeping any microscopic germs away from the head of the toothbrush. Just like Weeble Wobbles from your childhood that can be punched over and over and never fall down, this toothbrush uses the same concept. While not on the market yet, keep an eye out for it! In the meantime, make sure to wash out those toothbrush holders!
With more and more products focusing on sustainability, it’s no wonder the toothbrush industry took note. Several companies have sprung up that utilize recycled materials that make these toothbrushes a more earth-friendly option instead of the billions of plastic brushes tossed into landfills each year. For example, the Preserve toothbrush uses discarded plastic from used toothbrushes and yogurt containers to manufacture the handle and a new, more sustainable nylon for the bristles. Since 2008, the initiative has saved more than 110,000 pounds of plastic from going to the landfill. These brushes are sold in stores like Whole Foods, Trade Joe’s and Walmart.
The Humble toothbrush is another option, too. This toothbrush is made from bamboo and is 100% biodegradable. With a simplistic design, these brushes look more like a piece of art than a tooth-cleaning tool. The Humble foundation also works with children in the poorest countries around the world to bring oral health care and other health services that are typically unavailable.
Activated charcoal is popular in the health and beauty community, which has spilled over into toothbrush design. Several companies are harnessing the interest in charcoal to produce brushes that include it in the bristles. The all-blacked-out brush aptly called the Ghostly Toothbrush is made in Japan and utilizes charcoal known as Binchō-tan infused into each bristle to naturally deodorize the mouth, prevent bad breath, and help remove plaque.
The Morihata Red Binchotan Charcoal Toothbrush uses the same charcoal as the Ghostly Toothbrush, but boasts softer bristles and a bright red handle.
Finally, the Nano-b Charcoal & Gold Toothbrush harnesses the natural cleaning powers of both charcoal and gold. Not only does the gold look sharp, but it also naturally guards against bacteria, meaning your toothbrush won’t morph into a petri dish after a few months of use! Part of the bristle layout is designed to mimic flossing, so the idea is that you get an all-in-one clean when you brush with the Nano-b. The attractive bristles are paired with a crystal handle accented by one of a few different colors.
All the of these toothbrushes sit on the cutting edge of design and ingenuity. However, with style also comes a high price tag. When choosing a brush, it’s important you select a brush with a head that can easily fit in your mouth with bristles that aren’t too hard. And remember, the important thing is to brush at least twice a day—no matter what your brush looks like!