Who Invented the Toothbrush?

Red toothbrush with white nylon bristles against a powder blue background

Many Americans feel that the toothbrush is one of the inventions that they couldn’t live without. But who is the inventor of this simple and necessary tool of oral hygiene? In case you were curious, here’s a brief timeline of the evolution of one of our favorite bathroom staples:

Evolution of the Toothbrush

  • 3000 BC – There is evidence that some form of tooth cleaning was utilized when twigs with splayed ends, or “chew sticks”, were used to clean teeth.
  • 619 to 907 AD – The first bristled-toothbrush dates back to the Tang Dynasty in China when it was constructed of bone and the hair of boars. European travelers borrowed the idea.
  • 1780 – An Englishman named William Addis first produced the toothbrush for mass market consumption. He started a company called Wisdom Toothbrushes that still exists today.
  • 1857 – The patent for the toothbrush comes to the United States via H. N. Wadsworth.
  • 1938 –The Dupont de Nemours company replaces animal hair bristles with nylon bristles, and replace bone handles with celluloid. They call their invention “Doctor West’s Miracle Toothbrush.”
  • 1941 to 1945 – During World War II, brushing teeth becomes a requirement for American soldiers, who take the habit back home with them, making preventive oral care more popular.
  • 1977 – Johnson and Johnson introduce the world to the “Reach” toothbrush, which has an angled head and softer bristles. This new model allowed greater access to “hard-to-reach” teeth.
  • 1992 – The FDA approves the Ultrasonic electric toothbrush for daily in-home use.

Brushing Is Only One Aspect of Proper Oral Hygiene

There are many types of toothbrushes to choose from and not all are created equal! If you have any questions about which toothbrush we recommend for your specific smile needs, ask us for recommendations. But no matter the brand or type you choose, remember to brush two times daily for two minutes each time, floss every day, and keep up with your biannual dental checkups and cleanings here at Cary Family Dental. Notify us if you notice any oral health abnormalities like bleeding or receding gums, dry mouth, or chronic bad breath. Get in touch with our expert dental team via phone or our online contact form!

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