A Catalog of (Medical) Curiosity -- Toothsome tidbits

As I mentioned in my last post, one of the short chapters in my upcoming book describes George Washington's toothbrush. Here are some facts I found fun or worthwhile, but that didn't make it into the chapter:
  • Many people had toothbrushes in George Washington's time, but not everyone. His was made of silver, ivory, and animal hair bristles. Toothbrushes would not become so inexpensive that everyone could own their own until almost 150 years after Washington’s presidency, when plastic handles and nylon bristles became widely available in the 1930s.
  • At least some of Washington's dentures were set in frames that included lead -- one of several sources of exposure to lead in everyday life in his day.
  • The first toothpaste in a squeezable tube was sold in 1880, inspired by paint tubes.
 While we're loosely on the topic of presidents:
  • President Franklin Delano Roosevelt founded the nonprofit The National Foundation for Infantile Paralysis (polio). He had survived the disease about ten years before his presidency. The NFIP ran the famous fundraising campaign The March of Dimes, so named as a pun on the short news documentary series The March of Time. The campaign raised money by asking citizens to donate their dimes. In 1946, a year after Roosevelt’s death, his image was selected for the new design of the dime in recognition of his work on polio.
A Roosevelt dime from 1946

Lastly, I don't normally do this on this blog, but since we're talking about presidents, I'll take a page from "Civics Corner" in my monthly newsletter. One thing Washington and Roosevelt had in common? People voted for them. Here are a couple of organizations that help fight voter suppression in the United States:
  • Common Cause focuses on open, accountable government. 
  • Let America Vote is focused on voting rights.
  • VoteRiders helps people navigate changing voter ID laws, and helps people overcome financial and bureaucratic barriers to getting voter ID. 
  • Voting access, and civic engagement more generally, are part of the NAACP’s key issues.
  • The League of Women Voters (which hasn’t been just for women for a long time) focuses on voting rights, engaging and educating voters, getting money out of politics, and several other issues.

Selected Bibliography:
American Dental Association. “History of Dentistry Timeline.” Accessed July 21, 2019. https://www.ada.org/en/about-the-ada/ada-history-and-presidents-of-the-ada/ada-history-of-dentistry-timeline.

Fischman, Stuart L. “The History of Oral Hygiene Products: How Far Have We Come in 6000 Years?,” Periodontology 2000, 15, no. 1 (November 1997): 7–14. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/9643227