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  • Writer's pictureDr. Peter - Pediatric Dentist in Arlington, Virginia

Who Made the First Toothbrush? History Lesson

We brush our teeth every day (hopefully twice a day!) but where did the toothbrush come from? Dr. Peter answers the question below!

History of the Toothbrush:

A ‘modern toothbrush’ as we know it did not appear until the end of the 14th century (over 500 years ago), while the earliest oral hygiene tools can date back to 3500 BC in Egypt. The first tools to clean teeth were essentially sticks with frayed ends until the Chinese started using bone or bamboo for handles and hog hair bristles around 600 AD. These brushes eventually made their way to Europe and were further refined in the 1600s with softer bristles made from horse or boar hair for comfort.

The Inventor:

William Addis, who was serving time in prison at the time, designed the first mass-produced toothbrush and is largely credited with inventing the mass produced modern toothbrush. After leaving prison with his freedom, he started importing boar bristles from Siberia and attaching them to wood or animal bone for mass-production. In 1780, he formed his own company and began mass production with great success, being passed to his sons. His business (Wisdom Toothbrushes) continues to produce over 70 million toothbrushes a year in the UK.

Changes to Construction - from Natural Materials to Plastic:

Early toothbrush models using natural bristles such as pig, horse, or even badger hair retained water and thus held onto bacteria, which wasn't a good thing. Dupont, a leading plastics company at the time, developed the first plastic-handled toothbrush with nylon bristles, offering quite an upgrade to the conventional brushes of the time. These brushes became available to the public in 1938. Regular oral care in the United States, however, did not become mainstream until after World War II when soldiers came back home after having established habits learned in the military.

Modern Brushes:

Modern toothbrush design has improved and evolved, including the invention of the electric toothbrush in the 1950s with the market for them projected to continue to grow. Grand View Research projects the global oral care market to grow to nearly $41 billion by 2025, up from $28 billion in 2017. Manufacturers are adding features, conveniences, and connectivity that make brushing more efficient and more effective. From optical sensors that measure film build-up on your teeth to AI-enabled apps that identify up to 16 zones in your mouth and grade your brushing efficiency, the future of our oral care has never been better.

VK Pediatric Dentistry

5001 Langston Blvd, Arlington VA 22207

Schedule An Appointment Today in Arlington, Virginia at VK Pediatric Dentistry

If you haven't taken your child to a pediatric dentist yet or would like to schedule an appointment, Dr. Peter and the highly skilled team at VK Pediatric Dentistry are just a phone call away. Schedule an appointment online or call us today at 703-962-7814. We look forward to providing your children with a lifetime of healthy and happy smiles!


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