The History of the Toothbrush

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We use our toothbrushes twice a day, but ever wonder how they came to be? Here is a brief history on the invention of the toothbrush!

All the way back in 3500-3000 BC, the Babylonians and Ancient Egyptians had tools that were pretty similar to the toothbrushes we use today. However, they were just made of twigs and leaves. Then, around 1600 BC, the Chinese made something called “chewing sticks,” which were pretty similar but made from scented tree twigs to freshen breath, like toothpaste does for us now.

It wasn’t until the 15th century when historians believe the Chinese invented the first bristle toothbrush, which was created from the bristles on pigs’ necks and the handle was made of bone or bamboo. Over time, that invention was brought to Europe, and Europeans started to use horsehairs or feathers because they were soft.

It wasn’t until 1780 in England when the toothbrush got a much needed update by a man named William Addis. He created the toothbrush so the handle was carved from cattle bone and the brush was made of swine bristles. Then, in 1844, the first 3-row bristle brush was designed.

Natural bristles from animals were used until nylon was invented and took its place in 1938. That is what is now used for the toothbrushes we buy at the grocery store!

Some people prefer an electric toothbrush, and the first one was invited in 1939, but it wasn’t created in the United States until 1960.

Although the materials have changed from pig bristles and twigs into nylon bristles and plastic handles, the basic idea of the toothbrush hasn’t changed much since 3500 BC, which is pretty neat to think about! Now we can choose different sizes, colors, and even how soft we like our bristles. What is your toothbrush like?

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