Modern forms of the toothbrush didn’t exist until 1938, although toothbrushes have been around since 3500 BC.
The first toothbrush appeared around 3500 BC and was used by Egyptians and Babylonians. They used a Miswak chewing stick made from the branches of a tree names Salvadora Persica. The branches have antiseptic and healing qualities. This stick works by chewing on one end of it until the fibers formed a brush, and then you could clean your teeth. These are still used today and some believe they are superior to modern toothbrushes.
From the 1500’s to 1600’s Chinese “dentists” used hairs from cold climate pigs and pasted them to animal bones or bamboo sticks. These were used like modern manual toothbrushes. In Europe, linen was dipped in a sulfur oil and salt solution, then rubbed on teeth to clean the grime. In 1780 William Addis introduced the Chinese toothbrush to England.
William Addis was in prison when the idea of the bristle and bone toothbrush came to him. He used bones leftover from dinner and bristles he got from the guards. Addis combined these to create a teeth cleaning tool.
After the first toothbrush patent in 1857 made by entrepreneur H.N. Wadsworth, mass production of toothbrushes started in 1885.
During the first world war molds were created in the shape of brush handles and filled with celluloid. Makers would dip the bristles into the liquid, then cool it.
Until 1938 when Dupont de Nemours introduced nylon bristles, boar bristles were used. The first toothbrush with these nylon bristles was called Doctor West’s Miracle-Tuft Toothbrush.
Regular brushing became popular after US soldiers came home and brought the brushing habit with them. People were influenced by the soldiers and brushing your teeth became mainstream.
The first electric toothbrush was invented in 1939 and was released for the public in 1960.
Today, we have toothbrushes that can transmit a map of your mouth to tell you what areas you should focus on to get a perfect clean.
The evolution of toothbrushes continues.