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The Theory of Intelligent Toothbrush Design

Jul 10, 2013

Believe it or not, the fundamentals of toothbrush design haven’t changed much since ancient Egypt.  That’s not quite as old as dirt, but it’s in the same civilization ballpark as when the Pharaoh Ramses spearheaded Egypt’s first national dental campaign to fight plaque.

What? Ramses wasn’t fighting “plaque,” but “plagues?” Well, either way I’ll bet he was fighting that nasty fly and locust aftertaste.

Photo source:

Welcome to the second installment of our July series, “The Power of the Brush.”  Last week Felicia shared some great do’s, don’ts and probably shouldn’t’s on getting the most from your toothbrush. Today we’re looking at a revolutionary toothbrush from PeriClean® that is gentle on tooth enamel and gums.

But first, walk with me a moment through the thistles of toothbrush bristles history.  The bristle toothbrush was invented in China in 1498, or six years after C. Columbus sailed the ocean blue in 1492. The Chinese toothbrush was made from the coarse hairs of the back of a hog’s neck and was attached to bone or bamboo handles, presumably without the optional whole hog attachment.  

Well before slow boat to China became famous, the toothbrushes made their way from China to Europe, where the stiffer boar head bristles were swapped for softer horsehair bristles.  Some Europeans preferred feathered bristles.

In 1938 Dupont de Nemours introduced Doctor West's Miracle Toothbrush, the world’s first nylon toothbrush.  The use of nylon bristle toothbrushes by American soldiers in World War II led to their rapid adoption in the States.  Softer nylon bristles were introduced in the 1950’s which brings us to today.  (If you thought “I like Ike” referred to nylon toothbrushes you may want to consider a remedial history course.)

As a 36-year veteran of the oral wars, New York periodontist Dr. Jack Gruber knows that nearly 24 million Americans suffer from gum recession, including many that have literally brushed away tooth enamel, gums and the bones beneath their gums with traditional toothbrushes. 

Dr. Jack Gruber, PeriClean Founder

For years Dr. Gruber advised patients that tooth enamel and gums are eggshell-thin.  It was because many of his patients complained that tooth brushing had become too painful that Dr. Gruber began rethinking the toothbrush.  

Initially he and 30-year industrial engineer Edward Kozloski experimented with a bristle-less toothbrush that used a pad instead of bristles.  The pad was designed to offer enough friction and surface variation to clean teeth painlessly. Although it was excellent for post-surgical and sore gums, it didn’t reach deep enough into teeth crevices and gums to satisfy Dr. Gruber.

So the two went back to the drawing board and soon settled on a new approach: a toothbrush with 81 extended rubber bristles. Why rubber? Traditional bristles coil when a toothbrush presses down on the teeth. Because bristles bristle when not naturally erect, they exert additional recoil force.  Add that to the pressure of the hand driving the toothbrush across the teeth and enamel damage and gum recession often result.

That is why the new PeriClean® toothbrush has rubber bristles that don’t bend or scrape the tooth enamel.  The toothbrush head is ultra-soft and flexible, has no recoil, and extends the bristles to 3 millimeters to better remove food and bacteria.

Photo source: PeriClean

Another advantage to rubber bristles is they prevent the accumulation of bacteria, last twice as long as nylon bristles (6 months instead of 3), and they don’t fray.  Frayed nylon bristles can puncture gums which can lead to infection and other issues.

The handle of the PeriClean® toothbrush is made in the USA with FDA-approved materials.  Because of its unique design and antibacterial properties, toothpaste, food residue and bacteria don’t accumulate on the toothbrush. The brush was also designed to safely maneuver around the tooth line without gouging the gums.  Dr. Gruber is serious enough about healthy gums and the effectiveness of his toothbrush invention that he has registered Skin of Your Teeth®.

“The PeriClean® toothbrush is a unique tool that allows patients to brush effectively, without harming gingiva or abrading tooth structure,” says Dr. Neal Seltzer on the PeriClean® website. In several cases, Dr. Gruber said via email, patients’ brushing with the redesigned PeriClean® brush for approximately six months had their gums heal and even grow back to a point that gum grafting wasn’t necessary.

As regular readers of Agent Straight-Talk know, good brushing habits start early which is why PeriClean® also offers toothbrushes for kids. In May their children’s toothbrushes were named one of the top five products for healthy gums by Dental Product Review.  PeriClean® toothbrushes are available for kids and adults through the company website for $13.95. Eventually Dr. Gruber plans to distribute them in retail outlets as well as dentist offices.

We want to offer kudos to Dr. Gruber for sticking to his gums and fighting for tooth and periodontal justice in developing the PeriClean® toothbrush. Kudos to you too, our readers, and stop by next week when Felicia will enthrall us with another installment of “The Power of the Brush.”

Source:, Library of Congress,

Copyright 2013 Bloom Insurance Agency, LLC©

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