Arguably the most important of your dental hygiene tools, the toothbrush is a deceptively simple instrument. It consists of a handle and a head with bristles attached to it, yet the modern toothbrush has only been around for a couple of hundred years. The idea of tooth care, however, is much older than that. This week, take a trip through the evolution of the toothbrush with Viva Dental.

Toothbrush History

  • Civilizations as old as the Babylonians chewed on sticks that resembled large toothpicks to keep their teeth clean and their breath fresh.
  • The chewing stick was shortened and modified around 1600 BC in China. The Chinese chew stick was about the size of a pencil with a pointed end to use as a toothpick. The other end was softened and used as a sort of brush.
  • In the Middle Ages, the Chinese revolutionized the toothbrush again with the advent of the first bristled brush. The bristles were made of cold-climate hog’s hair and were attached to a bamboo stick.
  • In the 17th and early 18th centuries, French dentists were the first Europeans to advocate and promote the use of toothbrushes.
  • In 1780, William Addis went to prison for starting a riot. While in prison, he created an effective toothbrush with a small animal bone and some bristles he obtained from a guard. Addis drilled small holes in the bone, then threaded the bristles through the hole and glued them in place. When he was released from prison, his design became the first mass-produced toothbrush, and William Addis died a wealthy man.
  • Synthetic fibers replaced animal hair as toothbrush bristles in 1938. Du Pont’s first nylon toothbrush went on sale February 24, 1938.
  • The Broxodent, America’s first electrical toothbrush for home use, was introduced by the Bristol-Myers Company in 1959 at the centennial of the American Dental Association.
  • Most Americans didn’t brush their teeth until after World War II, when American Army soldiers returned home with enforced dental habits.

The toothbrush has come a long way and is now central to our daily oral hygiene routines. To learn more about protecting your oral health, call Viva Dental in Dallas today at (214) 337-7800. Subscribe to this blog to learn when our Richardson office opens!