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Henry Nicolas Sargol (1897-1957) was born in France, moved to Fresno, Ca. as a young man, and worked as an “agent” or “special agent.” In 1938, he designed a toothbrush with soft nylon bristles that, compared with other brushes on the market, was less abrasive to tooth enamel, better for massaging the gums, and more effective at picking up tooth powder. Robert William Hutson (1919–2001) was a young dentist in San Jose, Ca. who learned of Sargol’s designs and decided to develop them further. In 1949 he established the Oral B Company in Santa Clara, Ca., and filed for a trademark on the term. He also added numbers (such that, for instance, the Oral B-60 had 60 tufts). This example has an “Oral B-60” inscription on the handle.
Ref: Robert W. Hutson, “Toothbrush,” U.S. Design Patent 160,604 (Oct. 24, 1950).
Robert W. Hutson, “Brush,” U.S. Patent 2,845,659 (Aug. 5, 1958).
Ad for Oral-B toothbrushes in Los Angeles Times (June 21, 1953), p. A10.
Currently not on view
Object Name
oral hygiene product
Other Terms
Toothbrush; Dentistry
overall: 3/4 in x 6 1/4 in x 1/2 in; 1.905 cm x 15.875 cm x 1.27 cm
ID Number
accession number
catalog number
Credit Line
Gift of Columbia University School of Dental and Oral Surgery
See more items in
Medicine and Science: Medicine
Health & Medicine
Beauty and Health
Beauty and Hygiene Products: Oral Care
Data Source
National Museum of American History
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