The prosperous postwar era of Ike, tail fins and the EARLIEST faint stirrings of rock n’ roll BROUGHT FORTH the world’s first electric toothbrush, too.

DURING THE 1950s, the United States made it its business to popularize (among other things) television and interstate highways. The Soviet Union, for its part, unleashed Sputnik. For my money, though, the decade’s greatest innovation occurred in Switzerland in 1954, when Dr. Philippe Guy E. Woog invented the Broxodent—the world’s first electric toothbrush, pictured here.

By 1960, this brush had reached America, where it was distributed by Squibb. While the power brush caused quite a sensation, early adopters had
issues with, so to speak, the early adapters—the direct AC-line volt-age was not conducive to bathroom use (and such lines were eventually denied certification by Underwriters Laboratories). General Electric soon solved that problem with a cordless electric toothbrush powered by NiCad batteries. But that faced difficulties of its own—chief among them a short battery life, which, because the batteries were sealed inside, meant that this expensive unit had to be discarded after its first (inevitable) failure.

Of course, both Broxodent and GE did us all a favor. Power brushes can now oscillate up and down, rotate back and forth, and more. (Benco Dental sells the best power brush, the Oral-B Braun.) We have sonic brushes and ultrasonic brushes as well, which vibrate even more rapidly. (We also sell what I maintain is the finest one ever made, especially at our price: the PRO-SYS VarioSonic.) All of them were designed and constructed on the shoulders of this Broxodent.