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200 years of the toothbrush: the yardstick by which civilisation is measured

Celebrating the role of the toothbrush in improving our oral health over the last 200 years.

 Toothbrush exhibition graphic
This temporary exhibition in the BDA's Museum ran from 25th September - 17th December 2019
Ever wondered when brushing our teeth became part of our daily hygiene routine? 

Find out this and much more in our new temporary display at the BDA Museum, celebrating the role of the toothbrush in improving our oral health. 

Explore the materials used in making toothbrushes, how much they cost and the campaigns used to encourage us to brush our teeth. 

Toothbrushes archive pics

One of the highlights on display is Bartholomew Ruspini's toothbrush on loan from the Museum of Freemasonry. Ruspini was probably one of the first dentists to sell toothbrushes to his patients in the 1780s.  

Amongst other fascinating exhibits is a selection of early celluloid toothbrushes. These colourful and cheap brushes were the first to be made from plastic. Unfortunately, celluloid is deteriorating and so these toothbrushes will not last much longer. 

We're also delighted to have toothbrushes on display from the Addis collection at Hertford Museum and from the Royal Pharmaceutical Society Museum

The toothbrush: past, present and future - a panel debate

Toothbrush debate panelllists

Our exhibtion launched on Wednesday 25 September with a panel debate on 'The toothbrush: past, present and future', featuring some leading experts exploring our relationship with the toothbrush, its role in improving our oral health, and what the future holds for the toothbrush.

The panellist discussed the toothbrush from its humble origins, to the impact of brushing on oral health inequalities through history, and the issue of plastics usage and impact on the environment, and asked  what might come next for toothbrushing technology?

Chairing the event, Professor Richard Watt, Chair of Dental Public Health at UCL talked about the economic history oral health, and Professor Francis Hughes, Professor of Periodontology, Kings College London discussed the changing oral health of the nation. 

Speakers also included Ben Underwood, GDP and developer of the Brush DJ app, Polly Munday, Senior oral health promotion adviser (retired) and Sophie Thomas, designer and sustainability advocate.

See some pictures of the event in our Facebook album.

​BDA Museum

The BDA Museum has one of the largest collections of dental heritage in the UK. Spanning the 17th to the present day, highlights of the collection include dental chairs, drills, oral hygiene products, and the infamous 'Waterloo' teeth. 

The BDA Museum is located at 64 Wimpole Street, London, W1G 8YS, find out more details and our opening times.