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The Invention of the Toothbrush


I've often wondered and I'm sure you have too, how many times can the toothbrush be re-invented.  Well, A search of world-wide patent applications between 1963-1998, revealed that there are now about 3,000 toothbrush patents! WOW!!!  Can you believe that?  Blows my mind to think they keep rehashing something that has been done to death....hehehe To be honest any toothbrush will do the job if you use it correctly. That's not to say that we dental professionals advocate using just any toothbrush out there on the market either.  A general rule of thumb is to look for a SOFT bristle brush that has the ADA seal on the packaging.


Early Toothbrushes

The earliest toothbrushes were simply small sticks, eventually mashed at one end to increase their cleaning surface. Ancient Roman patricians employed special slaves to clean their teeth. Tooth brushing formed part of some ancient religious observances.  The bristle brush was probably invented by Chinese; it came to Europe during the seventeenth century and soon was widely used.  French dentists, who were the most advanced in Europe at the time, advocated the use of tooth-brushes in the seventeenth and
early eighteenth centuries. Dentists urged pre-Revolutionary Americans also to use bristle toothbrushes in the seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries. Nylon has replaced natural bristles in modern brushes. 

Dr. Scott's Electric Toothbrush was marketed in 1880; its manufacturer claimed the brush was "permanently charged with electro-magnetic current." The first real electric toothbrush developed in Switzerland after World War II. This corded model was introduced to the United States market in 1960 by Squibb under the name Broxodent. General Electric followed in 1961 with its rechargeable cordless model. Although it seemed like an odd idea to many people at the time, the electric toothbrush was an immediate success. 

Source: Travers, B., ed., World of Invention, Gale, (1994) p. 635.


Years ago dental professionals only recommended the flat planed toothbrush such as the one below.  This was due to the fact that the technology did not exist to "end round" the tips of each individual bristle.  End rounded bristle cause the least trauma to the oral tissues and therefore are recommended.  Now we have the technology to make toothbrushes in a  verity of shapes and sizes and still be within the guidelines that dental professionals  recommend.

Here are some examples of different types of toothbrushes with links to more information on that toothbrush. 


Manual Toothbrushes

This is just a small sample of what is available on the market today



 Oral-b Advantage

Oral-b Standard

Oral-B Toothbrushes

Colgate Total Brush Colgate Navigator Colgate Wave Brush
Crest  Deep Sweep Crest Crossaction Crest Kids Deep Sweep


Ozone Toothbrush


Dentrust 3 sided


Electric or Battery Powered Toothbrushes




 Braun 4 Kids      



 Interplak Interplak 4 Kids

Ionic Toothbrush






 Remember it's really not the "type" of toothbrush you use  but how effective you are at using it that does the job of removing plaque. 


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I do not always endorse the products that I present on this page.
It is intended for informational purposes only.