The History of the Power Toothbrush

The History of the Power Toothbrush

Power toothbrushes are on our mind this month, so we thought it would be interesting to look back at the history of the Electric Toothbrush!

It seems that the first electric toothbrush to be successfully developed for manufacture and distribution was designed in 1954 in Switzerland by Dr Phillippe-Guy Woog. The brush was called the Broxodent, and it was initially manufactured in Switzerland and later in France by Broxo S.A.

During the American Dental Association’s centennial celebrations in 1959, E. R. Squibb and Sons Pharmaceuticals introduced the Broxo Electric Toothbrush (later known as the Broxo-Dent or Broxodent) to the US market.

The early Broxodent is said to have been a very sophisticated product: it was quite slim and compact, mainly because it was plugged into a standard wall outlet and didn’t rely on the bulky batteries that were available in the 1960s. The main criticisms about the Broxodent was that they sometimes grew quite warm with prolonged use, and if the cord ever failed the entire machine had to be thrown out- a very expensive thing to do. However, the Broxodent sometimes lasted up to 20 years!

The brand ran into problems in the 1990s because the model still ran on mains power, rather than using step-down transformers to run the toothbrush on low voltage (much safer in a bathroom!). Broxo did develop a low voltage model: however, the presence in the marketplace of excellent quality competitors (mainly from Braun and Phillips), and the fact that Broxo toothbrush heads were not interchangeable between models, meant that the brand fell into decline.

 

We’ll look at the Broxodent’s competitors next week…