Smiles for the masses
The past century has witnessed a rocketing demand for toothbrushes – and dentures
Chew sticks and other teeth cleaning implements have been in use since ancient times, but the first mass-produced toothbrushes were introduced in the late 18th century – the brainchild of Englishman William Addis.
“Addis toothbrushes combined a bone handle with boar or badger hair for bristles”, says ScottDearing. “Although the product initially proved popular with the wealthy, it wasn’t until the 20th century that regular teeth cleaning became the norm.” According to the British Dental Journal, by 1939 the consumption of toothbrushes was 25 million a year – around one for every two people in Britain.
Toothbrushes were made by hand – as seen in this photograph of women working in an Addis toothbrush factory in the 1920s – until 1935, when bristles began to be made out of nylon.
“The formation of the NHS in 1948 was another landmark moment in dental history”, says Scott-Dearing. “For the first time medical, dental and nursing care were provided with no charge.
“Demand for dentures massively exceeded expectations: within the first nine months of the service, the NHS had provided 33 million individual artificial teeth – a figure that rose to 66 million per annum over the next three years.”