While brushing your pearly whites, you may ask yourself who invented the first toothbrush? Who should I thank for that lack of tartar build up? The answer is not as simple as it would seem. A form of the toothbrush as we know it has been around since 3500 B.C., when the Egyptians used chew sticks, which were twigs with frayed ends used to brush against the teeth.
The Chinese were the first to use a toothbrush resembling them as we know them today. In 1498 the Chinese used course boar hairs and attached them to a handle made from bamboo or bone.
The Europeans then adapted this design opting for horse hair which was softer then the boar hair. Other European designs used feathers.
Now, fast forward to 1780 where we will meet William Addis who invented the first mass produced toothbrush. In 1780 Addis was incarcerated and thought the methods used at the time to clean teeth inadequate. William saved a bone from his dinner, drilled holes in it and then inserted bristles and wired the ends to keep them in place. Thereby improving methods. After his release William started a company that would manufacture his toothbrushes.
Toothbrushes only used natural bristles. That was until 1938 when Du Pont invented nylon. Nylon toothbrushes were sturdier and more effective then natural hair. But it wasn’t until the end of World War II that the Americans became concerned with oral hygiene. Influenced by the good hygiene of the soldiers returning home, Americans quickly adopted the nylon toothbrush.
Now modern technology has introduced an electric toothbrush, as well as more ergonomic designs and more hygienic materials. But the fundamentals are the same, a handle and bristles to brush your teeth.
And don’t forget to floss. (My dentist made me add that.)
More toothbrush fun facts:
1. First American to patent a toothbrush was H.N. Wadsworth (patent number 18,653) on Nov. 7, 1857
2. First nylon toothbrush was called Doctor West’s Miracle Toothbrush.
3. One of the first electric toothbrushes was made by the Squib Co. in 1960 they called it the Broxodent.