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History of The Toothbrush

It’s something you never think about. You’ve been using it since before you could talk. It’s just part of your life—your toothbrush.

But have you ever wondered what people did before the colorfully designed bristle-stick was invented? I mean, YUCK. To think about not having a toothbrush!

But, believe it or not, having a clean mouth has been a top concern for centuries. Let me take you back…

Some sources state that the first toothbrush can be dated back to 3000 BC. In Babylonia, 3500 BC, chew sticks were used as toothbrushes. Chew sticks are frayed on one end, for cleaning teeth, and pointed on the other end to use like a toothpick. In fact, these are still common in some parts of Africa and the rural southern United States. Greeks and Romans also used toothpicks and toothpick-like twigs.

First Modern Toothbrush

The first modern toothbrush was made of a bamboo or bone handle and a hog bristle head. According to the Library of Congress, this was invented in China in 1498.

Several centuries later, in 1780, William Addis invented the first massed-produced toothbrush. Addis, after causing a mass riot and being sent to prison, created this early design. He wanted to clean his teeth, and made a way to do just that. When he was released from prison, he sold his invention to the masses, and became a very rich man.

In 1857, U.S. citizen H.N. Wadsworth was the first to patent a toothbrush. His design was usually made of a bone handle (though sometimes wood or ivory) and boar hair bristles—just like those invented in China in the 15th century. Mass production of his brush did not begin until 1885.

The Toothbrush We Know Today

The problem with boar bristles was that they held on to bacteria, did not dry well, and fell out easily. So, enter the modern-day toothbrush, made of a celluloid handle and nylon bristles. This recent design came from DuPont in 1938, with the first sale on February 24th of that year.

Along with the modern toothbrush came a modern concept of ‘dental hygiene.’ During WWII, soldiers were required to brush their teeth every day out of concern for their health. Thus, came the new ‘normal’ for caring for our teeth.

Happy modern-day brushing!

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Celebrating 30 Years Young at the Smile Center

It takes a special kind of dedication to help a whole community smile, and for Dr. Cathie Hidalgo Seaman, this 30th year of practice is a special milestone.

A Journey of Service

In the 30 years of dental service to the Fredericksburg region, Dr. Seaman and her team have provided tens of thousands of dollars via charity dental care and were voted “Best Dentist” by Fredericksburg Guide Book (2004). Additionally, Dr. Seaman has been awarded the Woman of Distinction Award for Community Service by the Commonwealth Council of Girl Scouts. More than anything, it has been a 30-year investment in the health and vitality of our community.

We’re committed to the value of a smile, and the importance that dental health makes in the overall well-being of our community.

What’s changed in 30 years?

Much has changed in the last 30 years of dentistry, including the office location, which now offers a state-of–the-art dental suite complete with a designer lobby and a soothing environment. Along the way, many other dental offices have abandoned conscious sedation because of the complexity,  but the Smile Center continues to offer this service, which is important, especially for patients who live with a mental illness that makes dental care difficult, who suffer from dental anxiety, or those who simply need to get more than one dental procedure completed in one appointment.

In the early years of the practice, big changes were happening with dental care, which included the use of new tooth-colored restorative materials, as well as improvements and advances in whitening methods. Shortly after, tooth-colored dental implants ushered in a new era of aesthetic dentistry. While staying up to date on the best resources and techniques, the Smile Center has never forgotten its primary mission of empowering the community through innovation, diversity, and superior support.

Much more than great technology.

In 1987, shortly after the practice opened, the first rotary toothbrush was invented. Since then, a vast amount of new dental technology has been developed, but an effective dental practice has to do more than bring the latest technology—it has to provide quality and consistent service that keeps people coming back, while taking care of their dental health. Just having the tools doesn’t make a great dentist; it’s about connecting with people, giving them the right advice, and making them feel at ease about caring for their teeth.

Something you can’t live without.

In 2003, in an annual survey of adults and teens, the toothbrush was voted the number one invention people can’t live without, beating out the computer, cell phone, and automobile.   While the team at the Smile Center encourage effective dental care at home, they know that it’s more than just the toothbrush and floss that keeps teeth healthy—they work as a team with each patient to help them find the right solution for their dental needs.

Therapy dogs make the office feel like home.

Since visiting a dental office is a routine—something that patients need to do at least twice a year—it’s important to make this space as inviting and comfortable as possible. For those who love animals, and for some who just want a little reassurance during their dental care, the staff at the Smile Center introduced Diego and DJ, a pair of trained therapy dogs. Research shows that therapy dogs help bring calm and serenity to health care settings. For those who have enjoyed petting them, or even having them on their lap during a procedure, our team knows that it makes a real difference in the dental experience.

Ready for the next 30 years.

We are not stopping at 30! We will continue to bring the state of the art dentistry and our efforts to continuously improve. The family tradition will also continue, as Dr. Seaman’s son, Joel S. Butterworth, D.D.S. will join the practice in 2016. He is a graduate of the College of Charleston and the Howard University College of Dentistry. Currently, Dr. Butterworth is performing a General Dentistry Trauma Residency at the Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Portland, Oregon. He will return to Fredericksburg in June of 2016, to join the exceptional team at the Smile Center.

If you are looking for a new dentist, are new to the area, want to take advantage of conscious sedation, or even the oral surgeon located here, the helpful team at the Smile Center invites the citizens of Fredericksburg region stop by or call to make an appointment. We’re conveniently located right off Plank and I95. If you are a long-standing patient of the office, Dr. Seaman and her staff would like to express their thanks to you for making the last 30 years great ones. The Smile Center is looking forward to many more years of serving our local community.

About the Dentist

Cathie Hidalgo Seaman, Smile Center FounderDr. Cathie Hidalgo Seaman received her Doctor of Dental Surgery from the Medical College of Virginia. She attended dental hygiene school at Old Dominion University, and has been in private practice in Fredericksburg since 1985. She has extensive training and certification in all procedures of general dentistry. Dr. Hidalgo Seaman has two boys, Joel and Trent. She is committed to serve her community through the annual “Smiles With a Heart” program and various non-profit organizations.





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Important Habits During the School-Year Rush

Sometimes, it’s the little things that make the difference.

It’s easy to skip good dental care when we are rushed. We’re tempted to think no one will notice. But, over time, good dental care can make a huge difference in our child’s health. With school back in session, being rushed is inevitable.

Here are some important things to remember.

  1. Protecting against cavities is worth the effort. A cavity is a hole that is formed when bacteria (germs) in your mouth use the sugar in food to make acid. This acid eats away at the tooth, forming the cavity.
  2. Diet makes a difference. When your child eats sugary food and then goes hours without brushing their teeth, that acid (as described above) will form. Keep sweets at a minimum and feed them more fruit and vegetables.
  3. What they drink makes a difference, too. Don’t give your children sugary drinks such as soda. And, try to limit fruit juice.
  4. Brushing twice a day is a must. Once in the morning and again before bed with a soft bristle toothbrush is genuinely important.
  5. And of course, regular check-ups at the Smile Center. Trained professionals can see things that the average eye can’t.

As with all good habits we teach our children, these will not go without a pay-off. Less time in the dentist’s chair and a beautiful smile on their face will give us the satisfaction of knowing all our efforts were well worth it.


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Our Little Lovable Therapy Dogs

For our team, having dogs is just a way of life. With all the research surrounding therapy dogs and the well-known fact that they decrease patient anxiety, we decided that dogs should be a part of our work, too.

Friendly and gentle pups.

Research has shown that therapy animals can improve a patient’s mental and emotional state — which helps them to engage and participate in the treatment process. We like our environment to be calming and serene. Our pups Diego and DJ make all the difference!

As trained therapy animals, our dogs are friendly but gentle. They put everyone at ease — especially children that are less-than-sure about the dentist. Diego and DJ are often used to lead children to their appointment, or are placed on their lap during procedures to decrease anxiety.

Our little heroes can…

  • Decrease stress and anxiety
  • Decrease aggressive behaviors
  • Decrease blood pressure
  • Increase the feeling of acceptance
  • Increase verbal interactions
  • Increase self-esteem

Diego and DJ love visitors. Bring your children in to meet our dogs, and take a spin around the office. We’ll show them just how fun a dental visit can be!

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Always Super to Me and My Family

Everyone is always super to me and my family. But Robert in particular has been, continues to be, and will always be our family’s brother from another mother!


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Professional and Extremely Friendly

“Everyone I came in contact with at the Smile Center was highly professional and extremely friendly. They seemed to go out of their way to ensure my comfort.”


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Conscious Sedation Dentistry

We use a number of effective techniques to make your dental experience a calm and relaxing one, and conscious sedation is a a preferred alternative for those who are nervous about dental care or those who want to have multiple dental procedures accomplished in one visit. You don’t find this approach everywhere, because it requires special attention and equipment– it’s one of the things that makes The Smile Center unique.

If any of the following issues are a concern for you, then this approach may be helpful:

  • Dental Anxiety
  • Difficulty Getting Numb
  • Very Sensitive Teeth
  • Extensive Dental Needs
  • No need to be intimidated by going to the dentist any longer.

Taking the Fear out of Dental Visits

For those who know that a local anesthetic won’t be enough to make their visit comfortable, conscious sedation provides a state of relaxation that is deeper, but still allows you to stay awake during the procedure. With this approach, you won’t feel any pain, and you’ll be able to respond to your dentist’s questions and commands. Since communication is important in the dentist-patient relationship, conscious sedation is an excellent option for those who have a little extra anxiety about dental work.

Conscious sedation is often called “sleep dentistry,” this is a term that can be misleading, since you are conscious rather than asleep while the dental work is completed.  The relaxing feeling that the sedation provides has the same effect as a calming sleep, but you can still respond to questions and verbal queues.

Facilities Designed for Conscious Sedation

At the Fredericksburg Smile Center we have a room designed especially for conscious sedation. Our qualified professionals use this room to provide several different types of sedatives and you can be confident that we maintain this important part of our practice with both high standards and your comfort in mind.

Many of our patients have discovered that Conscious sedation allows them to maintain their commute schedule and schedule more than one procedure at a time, without a sense of anxiety.  Those who have avoided the dentist altogether find this approach allows them to keep their regular care schedule with putting it off due to concerns about how nervous they might feel about the visit.

With conscious sedation at the Smile Center, you’ll be surprised just how relaxing a visit to the dentist can be.


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Love the Therapy Dogs

“Everyone is always so nice. Also, I love that you have therapy dogs in the office. Will definitely continue using your office and recommend you to everyone.”


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