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History of the Toothbrush – A Timeline

August 20th, 2021

  • 3500 B.C.

Ancient peoples living in this era chewed on a stick to clean their teeth. They believed the best sticks to use were ones that came from aromatic trees as these sticks would clean the teeth AND freshen the breath.


  • 1400s – 1500s

The first toothbrushes are made by Chinese. The bristles were made from the hair of hogs that lived in the cold temperatures of Siberia and Northern China. The hairs of these hogs were used as they were stiffer than those that grew on hogs that lived in warmer temperatures.


  • 1600s – 1700s

French dentists are the first Europeans to promote the use of toothbrushes. At the end of the 1600s, modern-day tooth-brushing as a regular habit becomes prevalent in Europe.


  • 1780 (circa)

William Addis of Clerkenwald, England, creates the first mass-produced toothbrush. He had been imprisoned for involvement in a riot and while in prison created a toothbrush. For the handle and brush head William Addis drilled small holes in a cattle bone. For the bristles, he used hair fibres from wild pigs. He tied the hairs in bunches and threaded them through the holes and then glued them in place.


  • 1857

American, H. N. Wadsworth is the first to patent the toothbrush. Like people before him he used animal bone and swine hair.


  • 1885

American Companies begin to mass-produce toothbrushes.


  • 1938

The nylon toothbrush – the first with synthetic bristles – is introduced. People preferred these bristles as they were softer and more hygienic than animal hair bristles.


  • 1939

The first electric toothbrush is invented in Switzerland.


  • 1940s

Although Europeans began brushing their teeth daily way back in the late 1600s, people in the Untied States did not engage in tooth brushing until the 1940’s! This is when American soldiers began returning from World War II bringing their habit of tooth brushing home with them. The practice soon spread among the general population and the nylon toothbrush becomes very popular.


  • 1960s

Electric toothbrushes are made available for sale.


  • 1987

The first rotary head electric toothbrush is sold.


  • 2003

An annual survey of teens and adults reveals the toothbrush is the number one invention they cannot live without – far surpassing the cell phone, computer and car!



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Posted in Dental Care