Maintaining oral hygiene has been a crucial aspect of overall health for millennia. Humans have devised methods to keep their teeth and mouths clean for thousands of years, and the American Dental Association (ADA) notes that “early forms of the toothbrush have existed for nearly 5,000 years.” So, what did the first toothbrush look like?
Here’s a brief timeline, compiled with the assistance of The Library of Congress, highlighting the evolution of the toothbrush:
3000 BC – The “chew stick,” possibly the earliest form of the toothbrush, was used by ancient civilizations. This thin twig with a frayed end was rubbed against teeth to remove food and plaque. 1498 – The bristle toothbrush was invented in China, resembling modern toothbrushes. These devices featured stiff, coarse hairs from a hog’s neck attached to handles made from bone or bamboo. 1938 – Marking the transition from boar bristle, Dupont de Nemours introduced nylon bristles, and the first nylon toothbrush, Doctor West’s Miracle Toothbrush, became popular in America. 1960 – The Squibb Company introduced Broxodent, one of the earliest electric toothbrushes, to the American market. Today, there’s a multitude of toothbrush brands offering various benefits. While the options may be overwhelming, the key is to find a toothbrush that suits your preferences and is easy for you to use.
The ADA recommends choosing a toothbrush that fits comfortably and enables effective cleaning of all areas of your mouth. Whether you opt for a manual or electric toothbrush, it’s essential to thoroughly clean all tooth surfaces twice a day.
While society has progressed from the days of the chew stick, the importance of consistent and effective personal oral hygiene remains unchanged.