Here’s a history of the toothbrush so brief that you’ll be able to finish reading by the time you’re done brushing your teeth. Let’s go!
The Babylonians were one of the first to integrate a toothbrush into their hygiene routines. While not exactly efficient, the chewing twigs they used were the most advanced brushes of their time.
Twigs were picked from fragrant friendly trees that were sturdy enough to clean the mouth and fresh enough to give the mouth a nice smell. One side of the twig was chewed while the other was used to pick out food that got stuck between teeth.
This was also around the time that the ancient Egyptians developed what they considered to be the first toothbrush. It was a thin end of a reed or palm that was used to brush teeth. It was called a miswak. If you asked “who invented the toothbrush,” we would have to say the Egyptians because they are the civilization responsible for any form of oral hygiene.
Fast forward a few thousand years and we have the first toothbrush, kind of. Circa 15-16th century the Chinese created a brush out of animal bone, bamboo, and hog hair. As you can imagine, the bristles were extremely hard.
The bristled toothbrush was bound together using silk threads and wires to create something that mimics modern toothbrushes.
In Europe, toothbrushing gained popularity in countries like England, Italy, and France. Here, the bristles were made from horse hair which was much softer than boar bristle.
It was in 1780 that the toothbrush became standardized and became available for sale and mass production. . The creator was an English inmate by the name of William Addis.
During his time in prison he created the first brush by drilling small holes in cattle bones which he then tied with swine fibers, before passing them through holes and gluing them to the brush. The brush was later fine-tuned after his prison release.
With the advent of the Industrial Revolution in the 18th century, toothbrush production underwent a significant transformation. Mass production techniques and advancements in manufacturing allowed for the creation of toothbrushes on a larger scale.
Handles were now made of more durable materials such as bone, ivory, or wood, while the bristles continued to be made from animal hair.
Seemingly way ahead of its time, the first electric toothbrush was invented in Switzerland. Many of us consider the electric toothbrush to be a rather new invention but in fact, it’s almost a century old.
It was around this time that brushing teeth in the United States became popular among the masses. Word has it that the soldiers of WWII acquired the habit while fighting the war, took their hygienic habit home with them, and spread it to their families.
Now that you understand the history of the toothbrush, you can understand how far we’ve come as a civilization. Don’t take it for granted. Take care of your teeth using high-quality toothbrushes and be sure to make an appointment at any of our locations: Eastlake, Chula Vista, Carmel Valley, Oceanside, or Kearny. We’d be happy to take a look at your teeth and help you get the smile you’ve always dreamed of!