The Toothbrush

Shannon Cassidy

The History

The first toothbrushes were made of either bamboo or bone handles with either Siberian boar's hair or horse hair. At first these materials proved to be effective for hygienic purposes, but they did have some downsides. The bristles would fall out, they wouldn't dry as quickly, and bacteria grew easily because of the hair bristles. In 1938 the first toothbrush using nylon bristles was made. These bristles consisted of nylon yarn, and today nylon is still what is mostly used in the production of bristles. New materials like rubber can be used alongside the nylon bristles, but for now nylon seems to be the most effective material.

How It's Made

The toothbrush is very simple in its structure, it's made of bristles and a plastic handle. Although it sounds simple, there is an interesting process needed to mass produce the simple toothbrush. The bristles in the toothbrush are made of nylon, which is a man-made fiber. The handle, however, goes through a slightly longer process than these bristles. Plastic pellets are melted down and shaped into a toothbrush handle, but where do the pellets come from? The plastic pellets are made of ethylene and propylene, which can be extracted from oil. Now that both the bristles and the handle are made what's next? Little metals staples are used to hold the bristles in place on the plastic handle. Then, the simple toothbrush is done after the bristles are trimmed to the proper length.
How Its Made -Toothbrush

Distributing

After they're made the toothbrushes are packaged in their cardboard and plastic containers and labeled with their information, such as, bristle hardness, a seal of approval, and directions upon usage. Next they are gathered into shipping boxes and are shipped to distributors. These distributors then sell large quantities of toothbrushes to multiple grocery and drug stores all over the country. Since everyone needs a toothbrush they aren't marketed as much. The average person goes through 3 toothbrushes a year. There are more advanced toothbrushes today that are commercialized, but for the most part the average toothbrush hasn't changed quite that much.