Fun Facts on the History of the Toothbrush

The toothbrush is considered to be the top item that Americans cannot do without according to the Lemelson-MITInvention Index, and it’s the one thing that you’re certain to use every day if you’re taking good care of your chompers.

How long has the toothbrush been around, anyway? Unless we have Dr. Who’s Tardis to ride then we’ll never know for sure, but history reveals that the first teeth cleaning implements appeared as early as 1600 B.C. in Africa, and that bristle toothbrushes had also been used by that time.

Archaeological finds also show us that the ancestors of your toothbrush came in the form of chew sticks – also called teeth cleaning twigs – that are still in use in a number of cultures, as well as individuals interested in natural ways of cleaning teeth.

Accounts say that in 1780, William Addis from England was reportedly the first to mass produce the toothbrush.

While being in jail for starting a riot, he carved a handle out of bone and drilled holes into it, into which he placed tufts of bristles. After being released from jail, he started a business and the rest was, well, as they say, history.

Most toothbrush handles during the time were made of wood or bone, and during the World War was replaced by celluloid.

Along with the toothbrush, toothpaste and tooth powders weren’t far behind.

In fact, the earliest known recipe for toothpaste can be found in ancient Egyptian texts now sitting in the National Library of Vienne, Austria. A mixture of mint, iris flower, pepper grains and salt made up the components of the concoction used as toothpaste.

We don’t know how they used to pull rotten teeth or fix teeth gaps, but even ancient civilizations know the importance of good oral hygiene.