history of the toothbrush

A Brief History of the Modern Toothbrush

The foundation of strong dental hygiene is a solid toothbrush. Brushing, flossing, and rinsing is the tried and true routine to keep your smile healthy and strong. But have you ever wondered how this daily appliance came to be? Keep reading to learn more about the history of the toothbrush, and how lucky we are to have this modern convenience!

Take a Step Back in Time

Picture ancient Egypt, approximately 3500 BC. The first iteration of the toothbrush was called a chewstick. One end of the stick would be chewed until it became slightly frayed, and then acted like a brush for the teeth. The other end was sharpened, and served as a toothpick. These chew sticks were often used with vinegar and pumice to brighten teeth (don’t try this at home)! Many chewsticks have been found in Egyptian tombs.

A jump in the future, 619-907 AD, reveals a more refined version of the toothbrush. The Chinese population during the Tang Dynasty created something more closely related to what we use today. They designed a handle out of bone or bamboo, while the bristles were often made out of coarse hog hair.

It wasn’t until the 17th century that toothbrushes started to appear in Europe. Europeans started traveling to China, bringing home this hygienic innovation. The first English toothbrush in history was created in 1780. It had a cattle bone handle, and pig or horse hair bristles. By 1840, toothbrushes were being mass-produced in Britain, France, Germany, and Japan.

The Toothbrush As We Know It

In 1938, a toothbrush was manufactured with nylon bristles instead of animal hair and a plastic handle. In the 1950s, bristles became even softer to make brushing more gentle. Toothbrushes eventually went electric in the 1960s, making brushing even easier. Fast forward to present day, there are countless toothbrush options to choose from to meet your dental hygiene needs. Next time you find yourself brushing your teeth, take a moment to appreciate this modern invention – and how far it’s come!