Dear Dr. Boli: Where do toothbrushes come from? —Sincerely, A Brusher of Teeth Examining His Instrument Closely for the First Time.

Dear Sir: Originally toothbrushes came from boar bristles. This caused some inconvenience to the boar, who was likely to object to the procedure, and an objecting boar is a difficult customer. Toothbrushes now use synthetic bristles, as the synthetic is a much more docile creature, and furthermore grows bristles at a prodigious rate. The handles of toothbrushes can be made from any material. Ivory was once popular, but if a boar is hard to manage, an elephant defending his tusks is even more so. The better grades of toothbrushes are generally made with mahogany handles; but you never see the better grades of toothbrushes, because they are all snapped up by collectors at auction long before they make it to your neighborhood pharmacy. The toothbrushes you use generally have plastic handles, which are made from decayed bits of deceased dinosaurs and the plants, mammals, insects, etc., they fed on. There are many things we put in our mouths without a thought, but every once in a while it is interesting to think about them.