Incredibly, we are nearly at the 100th anniversary since the invention of the electric toothbrush.
The first ever electric toothbrush was created by the Electro Massage Tooth Brush Company in the USA in 1927. That was at a time when in the UK, keeping just five bulbs going for a day would cost a week’s wages for the average person – and in 1920 only 6% of British homes were connected to mains electricity (BBC News article).
To begin with, the first toothbrush plugged into the electricity supply in the wall of those lucky few homes to have a mains connection. Battery powered toothbrushes came along nearly 30 years laterin the 1950s and 1960s, when the first proper consumer electric toothbrushes were manufactured and on sale for the general public. The first of these were the ‘Broxodent’ toothbrush invented in Switzerland by a Dr Philippe Woog, and the ‘General Electric automatic toothbrush’. These devices were chunky things. The General Electric toothbrush was more like the size of a microphone, or torch. It was cordless however and ran on rechargeable batteries with a very short lifespan (Wikipedia).
One of the main issues, which of course we still have today, is running an electric supply into a room containing water. And of course running electricity through a device which is in contact with tap water as well as moisture from the mouth. Various safety issues had to be dealt with and legislation was brought out to try and safeguard homes from this danger. The main result was the use of transformers to enable toothbrushes to run on low voltage electricity and wiring safety standards were put in place to ensure protection.