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A Look Back at the History of the Toothbrush

By Stephen Rogers on December 06, 2016

Toothbrush with toothpasteAccording to the American Dental Association, patients should use a toothbrush twice a day. This simple tool is surprisingly effective in keeping the teeth and gums clean so that oral health problems and restorative dentistry services to repair dental complications can be avoided. However, most patients have never stopped to consider when or how the toothbrush was invented. The toothbrush has actually been around for a very long time. Historical findings show that there were versions of the toothbrush used in ancient civilizations. Here, we take a look back at the history of the toothbrush and offer our Long Island, NY patients suggestions on choosing the right toothbrush.

Early Versions of the Toothbrush

The toothbrush as we know it today was not introduced until the 20th century. However, long before that, people were using various versions of a toothbrush to clean the teeth. The earliest evidence of a toothbrush can be dated back to 3000 BC. At this time, the Egyptians and Babylonians used a version of the toothbrush, which was referred to as a “chew stick.” A chew stick was a twig that had a frayed end. People would brush this frayed end against the teeth to remove food particles.

Another early version of the toothbrush was invented during the 15th century. During this time period, the Chinese were the first to create a toothbrush that used natural bristles. They attached the hairs from the back of a pig’s neck to a bone or bamboo handle. These hairs would then be brushed against the teeth to clean them. The Europeans later adopted this design, but adapted it slightly by using softer bristles, such as horse hairs and feathers.

Invention of the Modern Toothbrush

The modern toothbrush that is still widely used today was invented in 1938. This is the year that nylon was developed by Dupont de Nemours. Nylon bristles were attached to plastic handles just as they are today.

In the years following the invention of nylon, subtle changes were made that allowed for the creation of softer, more flexible bristles. Since the invention of nylon, there have been many variances to toothbrush design (as well as the introduction of the first electric toothbrush in the United States in 1960), but the basic toothbrush form has remained the same.

Choosing the Right Toothbrush

Although the fundamental aspects of a toothbrush have not changed much since 1938, small changes have been introduced that can make choosing a toothbrush seem like a daunting task. Below are some tips on choosing the right toothbrush:

  • Opt for soft bristles, which do a better job at removing debris
  • Choose a small toothbrush head that can easily reach all areas of the mouth
  • The shape of the head as well as the angle of the handle do not effect cleaning much, so choose a design that feels most comfortable
  • Electric toothbrushes are extremely effective and are always a great option

No matter what toothbrush feels right, it is important to use proper brushing techniques. Patients should also replace the toothbrush when signs of wear develop, which is typically every three months. By brushing frequently with a toothbrush, patients can protect the health of their teeth and gums.

Contact Us

Professional dental care is a vital part of any good oral hygiene routine. At Greater Long Island Dental, we offer a comprehensive range of dental services that allow our patients to maintain smiles that are healthy and beautiful. If you’d like to learn more about these services, contact us at your earliest convenience.

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