A Brief History of Toothbrushes

​Have you ever wondered where your toothbrush came from or what people did before toothbrushes were invented? Today we’re going to look back into history and see where toothbrushes began and how far they have come!

Toothbrushes have a long history that stretches back to around 3500 to 3000 BC when the Egyptians and the Babylonians would fray the end of a twig to make a brush. The Chinese developed “chewing sticks” about two millennia later, around 1600 BC. These chewing sticks were made from aromatic tree twigs that freshened people’s breath.

The Chinese people were also credited with making the first bristle toothbrush sometime in the 15th century. These brushes were made from bristles from the necks of pigs that were then attached to a wooden or bone handle. This innovation reached Europe not much later, where softer options such as horsehair and feathers were introduced into the same design.

Around 1780, William Addis made the first modern toothbrush in England. Still, the handle was carved from bone and the bristles were sourced from swine. The first three-row bristle brush was designed in 1844 with these swine bristles. These natural bristles were the norm up until the invention of nylon by Du Pont.

The modern toothbrush with nylon bristles gained prominence in 1938. By the 1950s, these brushes dominated the markets. Sometime around 1960, the Broxodent was produced as the first electric toothbrush in the United States.

Today’s toothbrushes are still made from nylon bristles and plastic handles. The fundamental design – a handle with bristles attached – hasn’t changed since the time of the ancient Egyptians and Babylonians. This simple invention has enjoyed a long history, and today, it remains a core component of our dental health.

How About Toothpaste?

Although toothpaste was around even before toothbrushes, the modern fluoride toothpaste was developed in 1914 to help address tooth decay. Just like toothbrushes, it remains one of the primary tools people need to maintain proper oral hygiene.

Need help with an oral health issue? Contact Dr. Norman and the Dream Smile team at 425-366-8246. We’ll be more than happy to help!