The History Of The Toothbrush

The toothbrush is one of your best tools when it comes to maintaining your oral health. Nowadays, the toothbrush is a common household item, but the toothbrush we know today has greatly changed over time. Where did the toothbrush originate? Let’s explore its’ history; 

Before the toothbrush we know today, there were chew sticks. Chew sticks were found in ancient Mesopotamia and Egypt. They were made from soft, frayed twigs whos’ ends somewhat resemble bristles. While the Mesopotamians and Egyptians used chew sticks, the Greeks and Romans used toothpicks for similar functions.

The toothbrush we know today can be traced back to China. Originating in the Tang Dynasty, these early brushes were made from coarse hog bristles. The bristles were attached to a handle made of bone or bamboo. The toothbrush spread as people traveled from China to Europe and was eventually adopted by the Europeans in the 17th century. The Europeans adapted the brush, switching from hog bristles to horse hair, making it softer and easier on the teeth.

The toothbrush was first mass-produced by William Addis. Addis was jailed for rioting in 1770. While in jail, he noticed that using a rag and salt (the normal for dental hygiene at the time) was an ineffective way to keep his teeth clean. He took a small animal bone, leftover from one of his meals, drilled holes in it and attached bristle like tufts. He sealed the entire brush with glue.

As Addis began to mass produce, the toothbrush industry took off. Mass production of brushes soon became popular in England, France, Germany, and Japan. Addis’s company remained in his family for hundreds of years until 1996. Wisdom Toothbrushes, as it is called today, continues to make millions of brushes every single year.

The toothbrush has come a long way in the last few hundred years. It’s hard to imagine that this common household item dates all the way back to almost 3000 BCE.

The history of the toothbrush may be ancient, but having a healthy smile will never go out of style.  Make sure to visit us at Dana Walters DDS for all of your dental needs. Call us today at 614-771-6172!