Q: What's pink, about 6 inches long, has a hole at one end and hairs at the other?
A: A Toothbrush.
As schoolboy jokes go, it's not nearly as good as what's pink and wrinkled and hangs out your granddad's pyjamas? but there you are.
Anyway, toothbrushes. Just imagine how disgusting life would be without them. Then again how come (with the exception of a few pampered pets) we are the only animals to have them. How come other animals can keep themselves clean naturally and we can't? Or perhaps they don't - its not for no reason that halitosis is sometimes called dog breath.
The idea of the toothbrush is not a new one. The first evidence of them comes from 6000 years ago. The first ones were nothing more than chewed sticks and it's probably a fair bet that the design didn't change much for a long time.
In recent years though the improvements have been dramatic. Flexible handles, tongue cleaners, multi length filaments, and different strengthed filaments are all comparatively new.
So too have been developments in toothpastes. A 100 years ago, most people would have used baking powder or maybe even just water. Today there is fluoride, anti bacterial, tooth whitening and all sorts of enhancements. These are so much better than what was available in the past. I for one wouldn't have wanted to use what the ancient Romans did: powdered mouse brains!
A History of the World in a Dozen Objects: Number 6 - The Toothbrush