Segments in this Video

Introduction: How To Make The Toothbrush (01:58)


In this video, Zoe Laughlin will examine the construction of toothbrushes and toothpaste, and make personalized items.

Toothbrush History (06:07)

At the British Dental Museum, Laughlin examines historic oral hygiene implements. A demand for cheap toothbrushes for the masses occurs in the early 20th century. The first electric toothbrushes have problems.

Toothbrush Materials (03:47)

Laughlin examines the various plastics of manual toothbrushes. Her three areas of focus for creating her own hygienic tools are the toothbrush handle, the bristles, and toothpaste. Laughlin wants to create a sustainable toothbrush.

Toothbrush Construction (03:42)

Laughlin visits a toothbrush manufacturing company where 85% of the handles consist of one material. A machine attaches bristles to toothbrush heads at a rate of 22 per minute. A new design has a bio-based plastic handle and castor oil bristles.

The Make (06:35)

Laughlin tests various materials for her toothbrush handle and a range of handle shapes to determine her favorite.

Dental Visit (03:33)

Laughlin visits the dentists to better understand what her teeth need. Dr. Swati Nehete explains the components of teeth and examines a sample of plaque; cleaning is vital for oral health.

The Autopsy (04:10)

Laughlin examines toothbrush heads and cuts them apart to better understand bristle attachment. She creates nylon by combining sebacoyl chloride and diaminohexane.

3D Printing Technology (04:48)

Laughlin wants to create a fully recyclable toothbrush. At Additive, she learns about structured light scanning and selective laser centering. Laughlin talks with the team about bristles.

Toothbrush Head (04:28)

Laughlin tests various materials for creating a toothbrush sock—boilersuit cotton, flannel, microfiber, nylon, and hessian fabric.

The Paste (04:37)

On average, the most popular brands of toothpaste contain 18 ingredients. Laughlin experiments with various ingredients for her paste.

Fluoride Protection (03:53)

Prof. Robert Hill and his team create a bioactive glass that provides a fluoride barrier. The material also contains calcium and phosphate ions for enamel restoration.

Paste Packaging (04:58)

Most toothpaste tubes consist of polyethylene and aluminum. Laughlin visits Lush to learn about eco-friendly toothpaste without packaging and samples various flavors.

Final Construction (05:32)

The team at Additive creates four handle prototypes. At her workshop, Laughlin makes toothpaste tablets and toothbrush socks. She tests the handles and determines her final brush.

Credits: How to Make The Toothbrush (00:35)

Credits: How to Make The Toothbrush

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How to Make The Toothbrush

Part of the Series : How to Make
DVD (Chaptered) Price: $169.95
DVD + 3-Year Streaming Price: $254.93
3-Year Streaming Price: $169.95



In this episode, Zoe explores an item so ubiquitous, most of us don’t give it a moment’s thought, The Toothbrush. With 200 million thrown away each year in the UK she’s on a mission to find a sustainable solution. In search of inspiration she heads to Sweden’s impressive low impact mega factory, Tepe where handles made from sugarcane bio-based plastic are ahead of the pack. She explores bespoke production techniques employing 3D laser sintering and dips into the archives of the British Dental Association, revealing the light bulb moment the modern brush was hit upon in a prison cell. Turning to the toothpaste, pioneering scientists using bio-active glass to get more fluoride to our teeth and unconventional options at Lush Cosmetic’s Willy-Wonker style lab get Zoe's taste buds tingling. All before revealing her final Toothbrush and alternative 'paste' which are uniquely Zoe, and just 'a bit bonkers' but could provide a very real eco-friendly answer to our daily brushing needs.

Length: 59 minutes

Item#: BVL210769

ISBN: 978-1-64867-986-5

Copyright date: ©2020

Closed Captioned

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Only available in USA and Canada.