Learn about the History of the Toothbrush By Dr. Degel on December 08, 2016

ToothbrushesAt Astoria Dental group, we offer general dentistry services, which includes preventive care like regular brushing and flossing. If you are diligent in your oral hygiene practices, you probably brush your teeth twice a day with a standard or electric toothbrush. Do you know the history of the toothbrush, though? At our Queens, NY dental practice, we offer the latest advancements in dental technology, with a thorough understanding of just where those advancements were derived from.

Ancient Oral Hygiene Practices

Before the toothbrush as we know it today was created, ancient cultures used frayed twigs and “chewing sticks”. These cultures include the Egyptians and Babylonians, between the years 3500 and 3000 BC; as well as the Chinese in 1600 BC. The chewing sticks developed by the Chinese were created from trees with a pleasant aroma to freshen breath.

Contributions from the Chinese

By the 15th century, the Chinese had developed a toothbrush with natural bristles. The handle was crafted from bamboo or bone. The bristles were the natural hairs found on the backs of pigs’ necks.

European Influences

Later, when the Chinese version of the toothbrush was introduced in Europe, the pig hairs were swapped out for horse hair. The Europeans preferred the softer bristles provided by horse hair. In some cases, they even used feathers. Around the 1780s in England, a more modernized toothbrush design was developed William Addis. Toothbrush handles were carved from cattle bones, but the bristles were still of the hog or horse variety. Addis’ toothbrush design was the first mass-produced toothbrush.

The First Modern Toothbrush

Once nylon was developed in the early 1900s, the toothbrush became modernized. By 1938, nylon-bristled toothbrushes were being produced. The diligent oral hygiene practices of soldiers fighting in World War II may have influenced Americans’ views on oral hygiene. In 1950, softer nylon-bristled toothbrushes became the preferred model. The first versions of electric toothbrushes hit the market in 1960 in the United States.

Today’s Toothbrushes

Today, both manual and electric toothbrushes are common in households all over the world. Although there have been numerous changes in materials over the years, the basic design of the toothbrush has remained relatively unchanged. All toothbrushes dating back to 3500 BC have consisted of a handle and some form of bristles to clean the teeth. Modern-day toothbrushes typically consist of plastic handles and synthetic bristles. A variety of different options are available, ranging from soft to harder bristles. Our toothbrushes now come in different shapes and sizes so that toddlers and adults can brush their teeth comfortably.

Learn More about Dental Technology

At Astoria Dental, we keep ourselves abreast of all the latest technology. If you are interested in the best type of toothbrush for your teeth and gums, or if you want to know if an electric toothbrush is worth the money, we can help. Contact our dental office today to set up an appointment and find out which type of toothbrush we recommend for you.

Related to This

Doctors Carmen Every-Degel and Clifford Degel

Astoria Dental Group

Our doctors are widely recognized for their contributions to the field of dentistry. They are members of various prestigious organizations, including: 

  • Academy of General Dentistry 
  • American Academy of Implant Dentistry 
  • International Congress of Oral Implantologists 
  • American Dental Association

If you are ready to transform your smile with Astoria Dental Group, request a consultation online or call us in Queens at (718) 278-1123.


“The office staff, as always were polite, friendly, and professional. The hygenist was professional and did a great job with my cleaning. Thank you very much!” Michael M.

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