Different Strokes for Different Folks: A History of the Toothbrush

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Travel toothbrush

To attract consumer interest and meet special requirements, a greater variety of toothbrushes appeared at the turn of the 19th century. Among these were children’s toy toothbrushes, two-tufted dental plate brushes and toothbrushes designed for travelers. Around that time, manufacturers were experimenting with size and texture options, offering smaller toothbrush heads with soft, medium or hard bristles. Diversification continued with 500 different kinds of toothbrushes, differing in size, length, shape and bristle texture, emerging by the late 1920s.

Mattick, BE 2010 A guide to bone toothbrushes of the 19th and early 20th centuries. Bloomington, IN: Xlibris Corp; Segrave, K 2010 America Brushes Up, the use of marketing of toothpaste and toothbrushes in the twentieth century. Jefferson, NC: McFarland and Co.
Travel toothbrush

Travel toothbrush

The handle, stock and protective casing of this carved travel toothbrush (A148.9) are made of fruitwood.
Donor: Unknown
Travel toothbrush, folded

Travel toothbrush, folded

It folds mid-length by swiveling on a metal rivet, and shows four rows of natural bristle tufts attached by the trepanning method.
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