Toothbrush: A History

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Today, the importance of brushing and flossing the teeth is well known. These dental hygiene practices are necessary for a healthy smile. But how did the toothbrush come to be? Before the toothbrush, how did people clean their teeth? Continue reading to explore the answers to these questions with Dr. Calpas, Dr. Hendrix, Dr. Amundson, and our team.

Tools for cleaning the teeth date back to about 3500 BC. The Babylonians and the Egyptians chewed on twigs with frayed ends to clean their teeth. Chew sticks have been discovered in ancient Egyptian tombs. The Chinese began using sweet-smelling chew sticks to freshen their breath around 1600 BC.

In 1498 in China, the bristled toothbrush was invented. Coarse, stiff hairs were taken from the back of a hog’s neck and attached to a handle made of either bone or bamboo. The bristle toothbrush was brought to Europe, where it was adapted to use horsehairs or feathers.

Soon after nylon was invented by Du Pont, the modern toothbrush was developed in 1938. The original nylon-bristled toothbrush was called Doctor West’s Miracle Toothbrush. By the 1950s, softer nylon bristles were being used, as many people preferred those. The first electronic toothbrush was made in 1939. After World War II, Americans adopted disciplined oral hygiene habits from soldiers. The nylon toothbrush became popular in the United States at this point.

We welcome you to contact Monticello Dental Center at 763-263-7100 to learn more about toothbrushes and to schedule a visit with our dentists in Big Lake, Minnesota.