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A Potted History of The Humble Tooth Brush

Good oral hygiene is extremely important to protect our teeth but is even more important when you’ve recently undergone surgery for a dental implant in Richmond, or indeed anywhere else in the world. At the centre of this is the humble toothbrush. It’s something that we (hopefully) use everyday, yet don’t really give it a second thought. With this in mind, we thought it would be a bit of fun to look back over the history of the humble toothbrush and where it all started from.


Even going way back in time to the ancient Egyptians, they recognised the importance of looking after their teeth. In fact similarly to today, great teeth were a mark of beauty. In order to keep them looking their best they used a form of chewing stick roughly the size of a pencil to remove any unwanted food particles.

510 BC -530 AD

The ancient Romans had a particularly unpleasant way of keeping their teeth white and that was through swilling urine. The ammonia contained within acted as a bleaching agent. Thank goodness teeth whitening products of today are a little less…er…gross!


The Chinese were accredited with inventing the first ever bone/fide bristle toothbrush. Fashioned from cattle bone and bamboo, the bristle part was made from the coarse hair located on a hog’s neck


During this time China imported thousands of their toothbrushes to Europe, but it was found that the coarse bristles had a tendency to make European gums bleed. Instead a clever early-day European entrepreneur decided to replace the hog or boar hair for horse hair, and bingo the first soft bristle brush was born.


In the 1600’s dentistry was still in its infancy yet surprisingly the French were the first country to actively promote the benefits of regular tooth brushing in what was without doubt the world’s first public oral health campaign.


The first European mass produced toothbrushes came out of England when in 1780 William Addiss made his first toothbrush while serving a prison term. After his release he had that eureka moment and decided to start a business. He went on to become very wealthy and Addiss toothbrushes are still being produced today and up until 1996, they were still very much a family business.


Just before the start of WWII nylon became all the rage and it wasn’t used purely for stockings. It was also adopted by French Company Dupont de Nemours who made the world’s first nylon bristled toothbrush. Advertised as ‘Dr West’s miracle toothbrush’ it became an instant hit.


In 1954 the toothbrush went electric when Dr P.G Woog patented his design for an all electric toothbrush. Later in the 1960’s designs by Broxodent and General Electric in the USA meant that they were now selling cordless rechargeable varieties, less than 10 years after the electric toothbrush was first invented.


The world’s first reach toothbrush was patented by Johnson and Johnson It resembled a dental instrument rather than a toothbrush but was marketed to reach areas that other toothbrushes couldn’t.

So there you have it…a somewhat potted history of the humble toothbrush.

As already mentioned good oral hygiene is vital if you want to protect your teeth, but for those who have experienced missing teeth and need a long term or even permanent replacement then you might want to consider dental implants in Richmond. Contact Sheen Dental on 020 8876 5277 or visit our website at where you can find a wealth of information to help you make an informed decision.


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