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Learn More about the History of the Toothbrush

Michael Tischler Dec 14, 2016

A ToothbrushYou may think of toothbrushing and dental care as a fairly modern practice, but it actually dates back thousands of years. The history of the toothbrush has been traced back to 3500 BC Babylonians. Here in our modern-day Woodstock, NY restorative dentistry practice, we explain the history of the toothbrush, and help patients decide which toothbrush is right for their needs.

3500 - 1600 BC

The toothbrush has a long and interesting history. The first evidence of the use of toothbrushes came from the Babylonians in 3500 BC. They used small twigs and frayed the ends to clean their teeth. Tombs of ancient Egyptians from around 3000 BC also contained these “toothbrushes”. There is also evidence of the Chinese using “chewing sticks” to freshen their breath around 1600 BC.

15th Century

The Chinese made several advances for the toothbrush. In the 15th century, they began using a tool with a bone or bamboo handle. They then attached natural bristles, such as boar hairs to the end of the handles. This instrument and those similar were used to clean the teeth until the 1700s. Europeans adopted the Chinese design, but used horse hairs or feathers in place of boar hairs as they were gentler.


The first toothbrush that truly resembled our modern day toothbrushes was developed by a man named William Addis in 1780. According to history, he actually designed the toothbrush in an England prison using bone for the handle and bristles from a broom. His design became the first mass-produced toothbrush.


The first toothbrush to have three rows of bristles was designed in 1844. In 1857, H.N. Wadsworth became the first American to patent a toothbrush. Toothbrush production on a mass scale in America began around 1885.


In 1938 at DuPont chemical company, nylon bristles were developed. The nylon bristles immediately replaced the natural bristles of old. Production of soft-bristled toothbrushes began in the 1950s. Some of the popularity of the toothbrush in America is attributed to soldiers in World War II, who were required to practice this dental hygiene habit daily. The first electric toothbrush was invented in the 1930s, but was not mass-produced in America until the 1960s.


Today, toothbrushes come in a wide variety. You have the choice between soft- and hard-bristled toothbrushes (though we recommend soft). They also have various shaped handles for greater comfort. They also come in different sizes, so they are comfortable for use by patients of all ages. Electric toothbrushes are a common household staple in the United States and across the globe.

Although electric toothbrushes have existed since the 1960s, they have grown in popularity in recent years. This is in part because they more closely resemble the tools used by dentists in their offices. Whether you choose a manual or electric toothbrush, just make sure you are brushing twice a day for two to three minutes at a time.

Learn More about Choosing the Right Toothbrush

If you are unsure about which type of toothbrush is right for you or your toddler, contact Tischler Dental today.

Woodstock Office

121 Route 375
Woodstock, NY 12498

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(845) 679-3706