The toothbrush for the masses
William Addis is reputed to have invented the mass-produced toothbrush while languishing in Newgate Prison. In the 1700s, European dental care came courtesy of the chew-stick or by rubbing teeth with an abrasive: salt, soot, or even brick dust. Addis, a rag trader, began manufacturing his brushes in 1780 from premises in London’s East End. They were instantly popular – aided perhaps by Londoners’ newfound love of sugar.
Tooth powders and pastes were used with the early toothbrushes but modern toothpaste didn’t appear until the Victorian era. Today, Glaxo-SmithKline makes 400 million tubes of toothpaste a year at a factory in Maidenhead. Making brands such as Sensodyne and AquaFresh, GSK worked with McLaren Applied Technologies to bring down changeover times on their production line. Using methodologies developed to choreograph F1 pitstops, Applied was able to help GSK cut their changeover from 39 to 15 minutes, allowing GSK to produce an extra 6.7million tubes of toothpaste a year.