What was the first type of toothbrush? Manual v Electronic, which type of toothbrush should I use?

Find the answer in Hallux's Dental Depositary!

Hundreds of years ago people used small twigs to clean their teeth!

Toothbrushes as we know them today started to be used in China over a thousand years ago – although using hair from animals as bristles.

The first mass produced toothbrushes were seen in the early 19th Century, with bone handles and using pig bristles in cheaper toothbrushes and badger hair in more expensive ones.

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As well as plastic handles, synthetic fibres started to replace animal hair in the 1930s.

A more recent development has been electric toothbrushes. At first they were a luxury item, but today there’s a wide variety to choose from – some for adults, some for kids and some even with cool apps and fun stuff to help you remember to brush your teeth for two minutes.

A sonic electric toothbrush makes 31,000 brush strokes a minute. To match that you’d have to brush your teeth for a month using a manual toothbrush.

When choosing a toothbrush, you need to think about whether your toothbrush is the right size and shape for your mouth.

You need a brush that allows you to reach all the way to your back teeth and a handle that is comfortable to hold.

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You also can choose whether the bristles on your brush are soft or harder. Most people choose soft bristles as harder ones can hurt your gums.

Electric toothbrushes have significantly smaller brush heads than a manual toothbrush. This helps you to reach those awkward areas at the back of your mouth more easily.

Whichever type of toothbrush you choose, always read the instructions to make sure that you’re using it properly.

As electric toothbrushes do more of the work for you than a manual toothbrush, you need to be careful that you’re brushing correctly to prevent damaging your gums and wearing away the tooth enamel.

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  • Any toothbrush is better than no toothbrush, but an electric one might be especially effective at cleaning your teeth.
  • Use a pea-sized blob of toothpaste when you brush.
  • Always brush for two minutes, no matter what type of toothbrush you use.

If you liked this, you’ll love Professor Hallux’s Body Podcast for Kids! It’s packed full of amazing stuff about the human body and has loads more info about your gnashers!

You can subscribe to the Professor Hallux podcast in Google or Apple Podcasts.

Just click the link of your podcast provider below – and don’t forget to subscribe, so you never miss an episode!

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Professor Hallux: The Human Body Podcast for Kids

Learn about the human body in this podcast - from brains and bones to ears and eyes!


Professor Hallux’s Dental Depositary was made possible with help from Philips Sonicare.


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