Advances in the Toothbrush

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The modern toothbrush has been specifically designed to enable us to effectively care for our smiles. However, the toothbrush as we know it today was not invented until 1938. Let’s take a look at how the toothbrush evolved over time.

Teeth-cleaning tools have been around since 3500-3000 BC. In Babylon and Egypt, people used twigs with frayed ends to clean their teeth. In China in about 1600 BC, chewing sticks were developed from aromatic tree twigs. These chewing sticks were used to freshen breath.

The first natural bristle toothbrush was invented by the Chinese in the 1400s when bristles from swines’ necks were attached to a bone or bamboo handle. As this idea was brought to Europe, the toothbrush design altered somewhat. The Europeans preferred using horsehairs instead of boar bristles, as they are softer. Other variations on the toothbrush in Europe used feathers. Around 1780, a toothbrush of more modern design was invented by William Addis in England. This toothbrush was also the first mass-produced toothbrush. The handle was carved from cattle bone and the brush still used pig bristles.

Swine bristles were used for toothbrushes until 1938, when nylon bristles were invented by Dupont de Nemours. The first toothbrush with nylon bristles was called Doctor West’s Miracle Toothbrush. During World War II, soldiers had very disciplined hygiene habits. Americans were influenced by this and became more concerned with practicing good oral hygiene. Because of this, the nylon toothbrush became more popular.

Today, toothbrushes come in many varieties. Both manual and electronic toothbrushes are available. Generally, the handles are made from molded plastic in varying designs. The nylon bristles come in differing levels of softness.

We encourage you to contact our office soon for more information and to schedule your next appointment with our dentist in Germantown, Maryland. Dr. Ronald Levine and our team are more than happy to serve you and to answer any questions you may have.