When Was the Toothbrush Invented? Exploring Early Versions

June 2, 2022

You know that you are supposed to brush at least two times a day, but do you know how long humans have been using toothbrushes? You may not realize just how old the earliest toothbrushes were.

Chewsticks in 3500 to 3000 B.C.

Before we had toothbrushes, our ancestors used chewsticks. Babylonians and Egyptians used them to keep their teeth clean as far back as 3500 to 3000 B.C. They sharpened one end, similar to a modern toothpick. Moreover, they frayed the other end, similar to toothbrush bristles.

Upgraded Chewsticks in 1600 B.C.

Chewsticks got an upgrade from the Chinese in 1600 B.C. They made their chewsticks from aromatic twigs. This way, they freshened their breath while cleaning their teeth.

Tang Dynasty Toothbrushes in 619 to 907 or the 1400s

The toothbrushes of the Tang dynasty are thought to be the earliest toothbrushes. They featured a handle on one end made from bamboo or bone. The bristles on the other end came from Siberian hogs.

Interestingly, sources disagree on when the Chinese started using these early toothbrushes. Some say the 1400s, while others say it was earlier.

Toothbrushes Reach Europe in the 16th to 17th Century

When Europeans went to China in the 16th or 17th century, they brought toothbrushes back. When they made their versions, they used horsehair as the bristles.

English Improvements in the 18th and 19th Century

The earliest toothbrush made in England featured pig-sourced bristles and a cattle-bone handle. It arrived in 1780.

The design with three rows arrived in 1844 to improve cleaning.

20th Century Modern Toothbrushes

The first modern toothbrush with nylon bristles arrived in 1938. This marked the departure from animal fur.

By the 1950s, we were using softer bristles, which were gentler on the teeth.

Electric toothbrushes arrived as long ago as the 1960s.


If you feel like skipping brushing your teeth despite Dr. Sharma’s recommendations, remember that our ancestors have been doing so for centuries. Even before modern studies showed the importance of brushing, our ancestors knew its value. For more dental history or to schedule a dental cleaning in Chicago.


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