History of the Toothbrush

The modern toothbrush was invented in 1938. The earliest forms of the toothbrush have been around since 3000 B.C. but those early versions didn’t quite resemble what we know as a toothbrush. In fact, they were known as chew sticks, which were frayed twigs; modern versions of chew sticks still exist in some cultures today. The first bristle toothbrush was found in China during the Tang Dynasty (619-907).

That first bristle toothbrush used hog bristle, a far stretch from today’s nylon bristles. The toothbrush handle could be made of bamboo or bone.

Vintage Toothbrush Ad

The first mass-produced toothbrushes were supposedly made by English entrepreneur William Addis. It is said that he came up with the idea while in jail for causing a riot. After his release, he started a business to manufacture toothbrushes under the name Wisdom Toothbrushes (a venture which made him very rich), a company which still produces 70 million toothbrushes each year in the UK.

The trend caught on and by 1840 toothbrushes were being mass-produced in France, Japan and Germany as well. The inexpensive versions continued to use pig bristle, while the more dear versions used beaver hair.

Then, in 1857, H. N. Wadsworth was granted the first patent on the toothbrush in the United States. It wasn’t until after World War 2 that daily brushing became a social standard, and in the 1900s, celluloid handles began to replace bone and wood handles.

The very first nylon toothbrush went on the market on February 24, 1938, and as they say, the rest is history. Today’s toothbrushes include electric toothbrushes, ecological toothbrushes, and chewable toothbrushes. The interesting thing about ecological toothbrushes is that they harken back to the days of the ancient toothbrush: The modern ecological toothbrushes are indeed made of pig bristles and wooden (mostly bamboo) handles!

Wondering what type of toothbrush you need to use? Come see us for an appointment and find out what works best for your teeth! Call us today!

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