Like many inventions deeply-ingrained in modern culture, the toothbrush was designed through centuries of team effort. It began with sticks and pig hair, and evolved into the dental device used around the world today.
The earliest indication of oral hygiene tactics dates back to 3500 BC. Archeologists discovered sticks inside Egyptian tombs that they believe were used to clean teeth.
The Chinese have also been credited with significant contributions to the evolution of the toothbrush. Around 1600 BC, the Chinese invented “chewing sticks” made from tree twigs, which were meant to freshen breath. Toward the 15th century, they had moved on to using bristles from the necks of pigs attached to bamboo or bone handles.
In 1780, England-dweller William Addis was thrown in prison for starting a riot, and it was there that he carved the first modern toothbrush from cattle bone and added swine bristles. By the 1840s, toothbrushes were mass-produced and sold across Europe, rivaling refined sugar production. Organic material was an integral part of toothbrushes until the invention of nylon bristles in 1938. Electric toothbrushes followed closely after in 1939, but did not reach the United States until 1960.
Today, toothbrushes are made of plastic and nylon bristle, with rubber grips for easier handling. Toothbrushes come in a variety of sizes and textures to fit every mouth. Even the head of the toothbrush can be rectangular, oblong or round. In 2003, the Lemelson-MIT survey ranked the toothbrush as the number one invention Americans couldn’t live without.
For more information on toothbrushes, or to receive a recommendation as to which toothbrush best fits your needs, contact Renaissance Dental at 918-272-0707. Dr. Michael Sanchez, DDS is happy to help you achieve your best dental health.