History of the Toothbrush


Though original toothbrushes started out as chewing sticks, over the years the toothbrush has changed quite a bit.

3500 B.C. Babylonians & Egyptians

Used Chewing sticks about the size of a pencil to clean their teeth

They would chew on one end of the twig until it became soft like a brush. The other end was used to pick between teeth.

1600 B.C. Ancient Chinese

Developed chewing sticks made from aromatic tree twigs for fresh breath

1400s Chinese to European

First hard bristle toothbrush was invented in China, made of bone, bamboo and hog hair

The Europeans replaced hard bristles with softer horse hairs or feathers

1690 The Word "Toothbrush"

Earliest identified use of word in English was in autobiography of Anthony Wood

1600s France

French dentists were the first to promote use of toothbrushes

1780 William Addis

Brush made from swine bristles

Handle: carved from cattle bone

Made first modern toothbrush while in prison in England

1844 Dr. Meyer Rhein

Designed first three-row bristle brush

1857 H.N. Wadsworth

Fig 1.

Fig 2. Wadsworth's patent

First to patent the toothbrush

1885 America

American companies begin mass-producing toothbrushes

1938 Dupont

Nylon synthetic bristles


The New Dr. West's

People preferred these because they were softer and more hygienic

1940s U.S. Army Soldiers

Brought habit of toothbrushing home after WWII

1954 Switzerland

Developed and produced first electric toothbrush

1961 Rechargeable cordless toothbrush

1987 Rotary action toothbrush

2003 Lemelson-MIT invention index

The toothbrush was selected as the #1 invention people can't live without... beating out computers, cell phones, and cars


Toothbrushes come in many varieties...


Rectangular, oblong, oval and almost round


Ranges from very soft to hard in texture


Straight, angled, curved

End-tufted brush

Shaped in pointed arrow pattern to allow closer adaptation to gums. Used for cleaning along gum line adjacent to teeth

Chewable toothbrush

Miniature plastic moulded toothbrush, used when no water is available

Interdental brush

Used for cleaning between wire of braces and teeth

The fundamentals have not changed since the Egyptians and Babylonians -- a handle to grip and a bristle with which to clean the teeth. Over this long history, the toothbrush has developed to become a scientifically designed tool using modern ergonomic designs and hygienic materials to save us from cavities and disease.

History of the Toothbrush

shared by paul.chai on Jun 17, 2013 in Health


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Though original toothbrushes started out as chewing sticks, over the years the toothbrush has changed quite a bit
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