The toothbrush is a mainstay in our bathroom and travel bags, but not many of us stop to think about the history of this helpful tool. The modern toothbrush we’re all familiar with today is the result of many centuries of development. Let’s take a trip back in time to see how its use and design has evolved over the years!
Early civilizations like the Egyptians and the Babylonians would chew on sticks as a way to clean their teeth. Biting down on one end would eventually split the stick into smaller fibers that worked similarly to a brush. The other end could also be used as a toothpick.
Animal Hair on a Stick
Around the years 1500-1600, the Chinese would take the stiff hairs from pigs and attach them to bamboo sticks or bones. Eventually this idea of a bristle toothbrush made its way to Europe.
William Addis is often credited for creating the first mass-produced toothbrush. The story goes that he thought of the idea while he was in prison. He had a bone leftover from his meal and attached bristles to it (which he snagged from a guard) and voila! He had a new tool to clean his teeth with, and once he got out of prison, to profit off of.
Changes During World Wars
With soup bone in high demand during the war, plastic handles came into play. Soon enough, they became the top choice with toothbrushes! Eventually, the animal bristles were replaced with synthetic fibers. The toothbrush became even more popular during World War II when soldiers were required to take care of their oral hygiene daily.
Dr. Philippe Guy Woog in Switzerland designed the battery-powered toothbrush in 1938, and it finally caught on in America starting around 1960.
Nowadays, there are tons of toothbrushes on store shelves to choose from. Whichever design you choose and whether you go manual or electric, soft bristles are always the best option since they’re gentler on your teeth and gums.
Need help picking a toothbrush? Feel free to contact our office! Ready to book your next professional dental cleaning? We’d love to take care of you at Highland Oaks Family Dentistry.
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