If you were born in the 1970s you might have an Evel Knievel stunt ramp and toothbrush in your archives. But it’s a safe bet your collection does not include George Washington’s choppers.
Those are safely preserved at The National Museum of Dentistry at 31 S. Greene St., Baltimore, Maryland, a short walk from Baltimore’s Inner Harbor on the campus of the University of Maryland.
Renowned for its collection of dental treasures “from the legendary to the whimsical”, from George Washington’s not-so-wooden teeth to cartoon character toothbrushes featuring Fred Flinstone and Mickey Mouse, the museum hosts a 40,000-object collection of dental instruments, furniture and artwork that ranks as one of the largest and most significant in the world.
According to its website, dental.umaryland.edu, the substantial portion of the core collection traces its roots to the Baltimore College of Dental Surgery, the world’s first dental college, which was founded in 1840. The Museum continues to add to the collection.
From their vault arrives a Monday morning dental history lesson, in the form of “Toothbrushes Through the Ages,” shown below
From left to right:
- The siwak stick, or “chew stick” — a twig with frayed ends — has been used since Babylonian times, particularly among Muslim and African cultures.
- Taub’s patent toothbrush had a convex, semicircular design made to conform to the tongue and sides of the teeth. The early 20th-century design was made out of celluloid.
- A rubber-tipped combination gum stimulator and toothbrush with an aluminum handle, pre-1945.
- The Strockway rotary toothbrush was designed with long and short bristle tufts to enable them to go over and in between teeth as the toothbrush was rolled along the teeth, Circa 1950s.
- Dr. Mayland’s toothbrush with rubber points instead of bristles, Circa 1920s.
- The Rotor toothbrush was designed to clean the teeth vertically, Circa 1930s.