Although dentistry as a profession dates back to around 1000 AD, people began to pay attention to oral hygiene well before the Middle Ages. In fact, the history of the toothbrush dates as far back as 3500 BC!
The toothbrush looks much different now than it did thousands of years ago. Which is fortunate for us, considering the first known toothbrush, invented by the Babylonians and Egyptians, was actually just a chewed-up twig. (Better than nothing, right?)
Over time, ancient Chinese and Europeans began to develop hard-bristle toothbrushes, made of things like bone and bamboo. Eventually the hard bristles were replaced with soft bristles made from feathers or horse hair.
However, the first toothbrush as we know it wasn’t created until 1780 AD in England. A man named William Addis crafted the modern toothbrush while in prison. The brush was made from swine bristles and the handle was carved from cattle bone.
Manufacturers in the United States began mass-producing toothbrushes in 1885. In 1938, the nylon toothbrush, the first made with softer, synthetic bristles, appeared on the market. The first electric toothbrush was invented in Switzerland in 1954.
Today you can get toothbrushes in all different sizes, styles, and colors. No matter what kind of toothbrush you prefer, remember to care for your teeth and gums by brushing for at least two minutes, twice a day.
For more fun toothbrush facts, view the full history of the toothbrush infographic.