Thursday, May 17, 2018

The History of Cleaning Your Teeth!

Toothbrush, Cleaning, Dental Care, Brush  Although the modern toothbrush has only been around for no more than 200 years, people have been using toothbrushes since 3000 BC in Egypt when they used a small twig with one frayed end.  These toothsticks were found in Egyptian tombs so when the person went to the after life, they would have good teeth.

The Chinese are said to have created the first natural bristle toothbrush using the hair from the neck of a pig attached to a handle made of wood or bone sometime during the 15th century.

When the idea hit Europe, they often used softer horsehairs or feathers but  the first modern toothbrush appeared in 1780 with a carved bone handle with bristles made of swine hairs.  In 1844, the first three 3 row toothbrush hit the market.  Until the invention of nylon in 1938, all toothbrushes used natural bristles.   It was at this point that all toothbrushes were made with nylon bristles. About the same time, the first electric toothbrush arrived but did not make its way to America until the 1960's.

As far as toothpaste, it is thought to have first appeared in Egypt around 5000 BC before toothbrushes came into regular use.  Although these early toothpastes were designed to keep teeth clean and bright, they often had unusual ingredients such as powdered ox hooves ashes, burnt egg shells, pumice,  crushed bones or crushed oyster shells, powdered charcoal or bark.

The first modern toothpaste began appearing in the early 1800's with soap in them but by the 1850's recipes included chalk.  Prior to 1850, toothpaste was only found in powdered form but beginning around 1850, the toothpaste we know began to show up in jars as Creme Dentilfrice.  By 1873, toothpaste was mass marketed in jars however it wasn't long before it was being sold in tubes.  However, the toothpastes of the time were rather abrasive so in addition to cleaning crud off the teeth, it removed enamel too.

Fluoride toothpastes were introduced in 1914 and soon after, toothpastes were created to target certain things like sensitive teeth or bad gums.  The thing about toothpaste and many of the better toothbrushes is they were only available to the wealthier classes due to cost. 

So in reality the modern toothpaste is actually a bit younger than the modern toothbrush but they are probably one of the best inventions out there because most of us have better teeth than our ancestors did.  My mother has some photos of her relatives from the second half of the 19th century and they never smile in them.  My dad said it was because they were missing teeth.  Is that true?  I don't know.  Let me know what you think, I'd love to hear.


  1. This is never something I really wondered about, but it's actually kind of interesting! I am certainly grateful that we have both toothbrushes and toothpaste - our smiles would be a lot less attractive if we didn't!
    Hannah from

  2. I'm not sure about the link between not smiling and missing teeth. Many were, I'm sure, but I think the idea that we should smile in photos is a relatively new one, as is the idea that we should be (or at least look) happy, happy, happy.

  3. Thank goodness for those ancient egyptians, eh! Or halitosis would be rampant! #bloggerspitstop x