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The modern toothbrush has been specifically designed to enable us to effectively care for our smiles. However, the toothbrush as we know it today was not invented until 1938. Let’s take a look at how the toothbrush developed over time into the toothbrush we know and love today.

Teeth-cleaning tools have been around since 3500-3000 BC. In Babylon and Egypt, people used twigs with frayed ends to clean their teeth. In China in about 1600 BC, chewing sticks were developed from sweet-smelling tree twigs. These chewing sticks were used to freshen breath.

The first natural bristle toothbrush was invented by the Chinese in the 1400s when bristles from pigs’ necks were attached to a bone or bamboo handle. As this idea was brought over to Europe, the toothbrush design altered somewhat. The Europeans preferred using horsehairs instead of pig bristles, as they are softer. Other variations on the European toothbrush used feathers for the brush. Around 1780, a toothbrush of more modern design was invented in England. The handle was carved from cattle bone and the brush still used swine bristles.

Boar bristles were used for toothbrushes until 1938, when nylon bristles were invented. The first toothbrush with nylon bristles was called Doctor West’s Miracle Toothbrush. During World War II, soldiers had very disciplined hygiene habits. Because of the influence they had on Americans’ desire for good oral hygiene, the nylon toothbrush became more popular.

Today, toothbrushes come in many varieties. Both manual and electronic toothbrushes are available. Generally, the handles are made from molded plastic in varying designs. The nylon bristles come in differing levels of softness.

For more information and to schedule an appointment with our dentist in Poughkeepsie, New York, feel free to contact our office today. Dr. Mark L. Pitel is happy to answer any questions that you may have.