The toothbrush, consisting of a head of tightly clustered bristles mounted on a handle, is a tool used to clean the teeth and gums. The long handle allows for cleaning of hard-to-reach areas of the mouth. Usually toothpaste is used with the toothbrush to increase the effectiveness of the toothbrush. Toothbrushes are made of various sizes, bristle textures, etc. Most dentists suggest using soft bristled toothbrushes due to harder ones damaging enamel.
Pre-dating toothbrushes people used a variety of things for oral hygiene such as chewsticks, tree twigs, bird feathers, animal bones, etc. The first documented use of a toothbrush was in 3000 B.C. when the use of a chewstick was noted. It was a twig with a frayed end. Tree twigs and roots were commonly used as oral hygiene products as well as backing soda and chalk. The first use of the word toothbrush was in a autobiography of Anthony wood, in which he wrote of his purchase of a toothbrush.
In 1789 the first mass-produced toothbrush was created by William Addis. In prison he created a toothbrush from a small animal bone that had holes drilled in it with bristles placed through the holes and tied to the bone. After dying in 1808 he left his business to his eldest son and the company still continues today. When the 1840’s rolled around toothbrushes we commonly mass produced throughout England, France, Germany, and Japan.
The first toothbrush patent was by H. N. Wadsworth in 1857. However, mass production didn’t happen in the US until 1885. Even then, brushing ones teeth did not become common practice until World War II. Eventually synthetic fibers replaced natural animal bristles in the toothbrush. The Broxodent was the first electric toothbrush, in 1954. In 2003 the toothbrush was selected as the number one invention Americans can not live without.