The Gospel of the Toothbrush

With yesterday, February 24, marking the 75th anniversary of the sale of the first nylon toothbrush, and February being Black History Month, what better time to honor Mr. Booker T. Washington, founder of the Tuskegee Institute and preacher of “The Gospel of the Toothbrush”?


“In all my teaching I have watched carefully the influence of the tooth-brush, and I am convinced that there are few single agencies of civilization that are more far-reaching.”

Booker T. Washington took it upon himself to promote education in the classroom and beyond – to personal hygiene. He believed the toothbrush was an essential tool in making an impression and leading a successful life. Washington went so far as to require all students at Tuskegee to own a toothbrush.


Though today the toothbrush is simply a staple in most people’s lives, at one time, it was thought to offer “a higher degree of civilization” to those struggling to overcome social obstacles and adversity. It continues to be an necessary instrument for a healthy smile, and ultimately, a healthier life.