Joseph Ramellini, DMD

Gabrielle Ramellini, DMD, Diplomate, ABDSM

Joseph Ramellini, DMD

Gabrielle Ramellini, DMD, Diplomate, ABDSM

The History of the Toothbrush

Closeup of a red-handled toothbrush with white bristles against a powder blue background

Have you ever wondered about the origin of the toothbrush? The roots of this tool go back further than you might imagine. Here’s a brief history of a bathroom accessory we’d all hate to live without.


The first teeth cleaning tools were “chew sticks”, which is just what it sounds like. Dating back to 3000 BC, people would pick and scrape their teeth with the frayed ends of chewed sticks to clean out food particles.

Early Models

Although there is recorded evidence of Chinese monks in the Tang Dynasty cleaning their teeth with brushes made of horse-tail hairs and the bone of an ox, it wasn’t until 1498 when Emperor Hongzhi of the Ming Dynasty patented the first official toothbrush. Its handle was constructed of bone or bamboo, and the bristles were fashioned from boar’s hair. European travelers brought the idea from Asia to their homeland. Around 1780, an Englishman named William Addis created the first toothbrush for mass-market consumption while serving out a prison sentence for rioting. He established the Wisdom Toothbrush company that still exists today.

Advancements in Design

In 1938, the Dupont Company created “Dr. West’s Miracle Toothbrush”. This included a celluloid handle to replace the bone used previously, and nylon bristles replaced animal hair. During World War II, American soldiers were required to keep good dental hygiene habits. This helped to popularize brushing in the United States when they returned home. In 1977, Johnson and Johnson created the “Reach” toothbrush with an angled head that could get into “hard to reach” places.

Modern-Day Choices

In today’s market, we have a myriad of different toothbrushes to choose between, from more environmentally-friendly options to fancy electric gadgets to just-for-kids brushes. We recommend getting a dependable toothbrush with soft bristles and to replace it every three to four months and after you’re been sick. If you’re looking for a simple way to jazz up your oral hygiene routine and improve its effectiveness, consider investing in an electric toothbrush!

We Can Help You Improve Your Oral Care Routine!

If you have any questions about which toothbrush may be right for you, ask us for recommendations. We are here to help you get the most out of your daily dental routine. Happy brushing!

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