The Amazing History of the Toothbrush

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Human beings have been cleaning their teeth for thousands of years. Before dentistry even existed, people understood the virtues of keeping teeth clean and bright. The following contains a brief timeline of the journey of the toothbrush throughout history:

3500-3000 BC: Babylonians and Egyptians use the frayed ends of twigs to clean their teeth. Twigs such as these are found in the tombs of Pharaohs, placed to send these rulers to the next life with clean teeth.
1600 BC: The Chinese create the first natural bristle toothbrush, made from pig hair and bone or bamboo.
1780 AD: Toothbrushes existed in Europe before now, but they weren’t well-known until William Addis creates his own version and builds a company. His model is created from cattle bone and horsehair.
1844: The first three-row bristle brush is designed.
1847: H.N. Wadsworth files the first U.S. patent for a toothbrush.
1935: Genius chemist Wallace Carothers and his team invent nylon.
1938: Nylon toothbrushes are created.
1939: The first electric toothbrush is invented.
1950: Toothbrushes are modified to become softer.
2017: Toothbrushes come in many shapes and sizes, both manual and electronic. Their handles are typically made from plastic with molded grips and the brushes have soft nylon bristles.

In a 2003 Lemelson-MIT survey, participants ranked a list of inventions in order of what they couldn’t live without. The toothbrush was selected as the number one item – amongst other valuable choices like computers, cell phones and microwaves.

Next time you reach for your toothbrush, think back on this timeline and let yourself feel the wonder of its invention. If you would like to improve your oral health, simply call 734-222-0055 to reach White Pearl Dentistry in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Dr. Nadia Hamouda and our excellent team will offer you a state-of-the-art dental exam and cleaning. We’re here to help.