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The Evolution of the Toothbrush

Wed, Feb 3rd, 2021

The Evolution of the Toothbrush

Have you ever considered that we take the convenience, comfort and sanitization of modern-day toothbrushes for granted? Every morning and night, we brush our teeth, rinse the toothbrush and let it dry before it's time to use again the next morning. Once every three or four months we buy a new toothbrush. Simple enough, right? Well, oral hygiene hasn't always been this easy. For thousands of years, humans have found ways to keep their mouth clean. The first toothbrush actually dates back nearly 5,000 years! But what exactly does the evolution of the toothbrush look like?


3000 BC - The earliest known toothbrush used by ancient civilizations was the "chew stick". People would rub the chew stick against their teeth to remove food and plaque. It was made out of Salvadora persica branches, which had healing and antiseptic qualities, according to these civilizations.

1498 - The first bristle toothbrush was invented in China and resembled the modern toothbrush in many ways. It was made by attaching stiff coarse hairs from the back of a hog's neck to handles that were typically made from bone or bamboo.

1780 - The first modern toothbrush was created by William Addis of Clerkenald, England. Legend has it, the idea came to Addis while in prison. Using a bone left behind from his dinner and bristles he borrowed from a guard, he combined them to create a tool to clean his teeth. The Addis version of the toothbrush used cow tail tied to cow bone. He was the first person to mass-produce toothbrushes after his release from prison.

1938 - The first nylon toothbrushes were introduced by Dupont de Nemours. Nylon was the clear-cut choice to replace animal hair because of low shipping costs and ability to control bristle texture. It also dried much faster and did not carry bacteria as animal hair did.

1954 - Dr. Pillippe-G Wood invented the 'Broxodent', the first electric toothbrush. It was made in Switzerland and brought to America in 1960.

Toothbrushes Today

Dental technology has come a long way since humans used chew sticks and animal hair to clean their teeth. There are a variety of toothbrushes to choose from, but it's important to use one that you like and effectively reaches all areas of your mouth. Whether you use a manual or a power toothbrush it's important to remember to brush twice per day.

During one of your appointments with Arnold Dentistry, we would be happy to answer any questions regarding a certain toothbrush or oral hygiene in general.

Source: Princeton Restorative & Implant Dentistry, US Dental Tribune