A toothbrush is the main tool you use to clean your teeth. It plays an important role in keeping the mouth and body healthy. But do you know everything about your toothbrush? Read through and some of these facts may surprise you!

1.      The original ‘toothbrush’ was a stick.

The earliest record of “toothbrushes” dated back to 3500BC. Chew sticks were found beside buried Babylonians. The material used for this basic toothbrush was a twig that had two purposes. The one frayed end was for brushing, while the other pointed end was a toothpick. The ancient Chinese, Greeks, Romans, and Egyptians also used these chew sticks.

2.      The Chinese invented the first toothbrush bristles.

The Chinese invented the first toothbrush bristles around the 1400s. They used pig’s hair for the bristles and bamboo or bone for the handles. These toothbrushes were exported from China to Europe in the 17th century. But the Europeans found the bristles too firm. Because of that, they started using softer alternatives like horsehair or feathers.

3.      A prisoner invented the first mass-produced toothbrush.

William Addis invented the first mass-produced toothbrush. He was an Englishman jailed for inciting a riot in 1770. His invention started when he saw his fellow prisoners cleaning their teeth with a rag and salt. He thought that there might be a better option than doing it too. Addis saved an animal bone after dinner and obtained horse hairs from a guard. Records state that he made tiny holes on the bone, inserted the bristles, and sealed it with glue. He used this during his stay in the prison.

Addis then founded Addis Company after his release. He manufactured four types of toothbrushes. These became widely known in London and across Europe. His company, Addis Houseware/Wisdom Toothbrush, still exists in the United Kingdom today.

4.      Nylon bristles first appeared in 1938.

DuPont Company invented nylon in 1935. This was over 150 years after Addis began producing his toothbrushes. In 1938, nylon-bristled toothbrushes went into production. The adaption from natural to artificial bristles happened fast. This is because nylon bristles are more sanitary than the traditional pig hair bristles.

5.      The first three-row bristled toothbrush was invented around 1844.

Toothbrushes used to have a single row of bristles. But toothbrush manufacturers saw the advantage of three-row bristles. It can cover more surface area. They began manufacturing it around 1844. It became the trend for most commercial toothbrushes because of their proven effectiveness.

6.      The first electric toothbrush was Broxodent.

A Swiss doctor named Dr. Phillippe G. Woog invented the Broxodent in 1954. He made it for people with limited mobility. But this electric toothbrush should be plugged in and run on live voltage. Broxodent sold well but did not explode in popularity.

General Electric produced a rechargeable and cordless electric toothbrush in 1961. The Broxodent inspired this invention. This more convenient version of the electric toothbrush gained popularity. Improved models began to storm the market then after.

7.      Covering your toothbrush can increase bacterial growth.

Cleaning your toothbrush after brushing is easy. Rinse it in tap water to remove remaining food debris and toothpaste. Store it heads up and air dry. Make sure your toothbrush is separated from other toothbrushes to avoid cross-contamination. Do not cover your toothbrush or keep it in a closed container.

Storing your toothbrush in a closed container can create a moist environment. This causes the bacteria to grow quicker than in the open air. Few bacterial growths can keep your brush clean and with longer usability.

8.      1 Billion toothbrushes are disposed of in the US yearly.

Plastic toothbrushes remain a popular tool to this day. But in the US alone, more than a billion toothbrushes are thrown yearly. On average, toothbrushes have a usability span of three months. Dentists also recommend replacing them to avoid bacteria build-up.

Tooth brushing is important for your health, but most toothbrushes aren’t eco-friendly. Plastic may be recyclable, but nylon isn’t. This makes toothbrushes non-recyclable. Because of this, all plastic toothbrushes find their way to landfills. They sit there for thousands of years before beginning the process of decomposition.

9.      Toothbrush trends are returning to bamboo.

After many years of toothbrush evolution, toothbrush trends are returning to bamboo. This natural alternative is more eco-friendly. Bamboo toothbrushes are recyclable and biodegradable. Most of it also comes in biodegradable packaging. People today are becoming more aware of the harmful effects of using plastics. Because of this, many are converting to using eco-friendly materials.

10.  You should never share your toothbrush.

Sharing a toothbrush means sharing germs and bacteria. No matter how well you wash your toothbrush, some bacteria can remain. This can also cause the spread of flu and other diseases. Remember, sharing is caring, but not for toothbrushes.

Short and fun facts about your toothbrush

Want more interesting facts about your toothbrush? Well, here are more trivia that you might not know about.

  • The most common color of toothbrushes is blue, next in line is red.
  • There is no correct order for flossing and tooth brushing. It doesn’t matter which comes first, as long as you do both.
  • The most expensive toothbrush costs more than US$4,000. It’s made of titanium!
  • Dentists recommend that you should store your toothbrush away from the toilet. This is to avoid the spread of bacteria during flushing.
  • Toothbrushes were chosen as the #1 invention people can’t live without.
  • It takes only four minutes a day to take care of your oral health. Twice a day for two minutes each will go a long way.
  • There is only a little difference between manual and electric toothbrushes. But both are effective in keeping the mouth healthy as long as you brush properly.


It is fun knowing things about toothbrushes. From chewing sticks to brushing with pig’s hair, this humble tool has gone a long way. Today, there are thousands of toothbrush varieties. But it is recommended to get one with the ADA seal of acceptance. And remember, brush twice per day for two minutes at a time.