The Evolution of the Toothbrush

couple with toothbrushes
The modern toothbrush has been specifically designed with effective oral care in mind. However, the toothbrush as we know it today was not invented until 1938. Let’s take a look at how the toothbrush has evolved over time.

Tools for cleaning teeth have been around since 3500-3000 BC. People used twigs with frayed ends to clean their teeth in Babylon and Egypt. In about 1600 BC, the Chinese invented chewing sticks made from aromatic tree twigs to freshen breath.

The first natural bristle toothbrush was invented by the Chinese in the 1400s when bristles from pigs’ necks were attached to a bone or bamboo handle. As this idea was brought to Europe, the toothbrush design altered somewhat. The Europeans preferred using horsehairs instead of pig bristles, as they are softer. Other variations on the toothbrush in Europe used feathers. Around 1780, a toothbrush of more modern design was invented by William Addis in England. This toothbrush was also the first mass-produced toothbrush. The handle was carved from cattle bone and the brush still used swine bristles.

Boar bristles were used for toothbrushes until 1938, when nylon bristles were invented by Dupont de Nemours. The first toothbrush with nylon bristles was called Doctor West’s Miracle Toothbrush. During World War II, soldiers had very disciplined hygiene habits. Americans were influenced by this and became more concerned with practicing good oral hygiene. Because of this, the nylon toothbrush became more popular.

Today, toothbrushes come in many varieties. Both manual and electronic toothbrushes are available. Generally, the handles are made from molded plastic in varying designs. The nylon bristles come in differing levels of softness.

To learn more about oral hygiene and toothbrushes and to schedule an appointment with our dentist in Riddle, Oregon, contact Smiles Dental today. Dr. Natanael Repta and our team are happy to answer any questions you may have.