If you were stranded on a desert island, what is the one personal tool that you would want to have with you? No, computers, tablets, or phones are allowed. With that thought in mind, your answer might actually be a toothbrush. The history of the toothbrush tells us that chewing sticks, quite similar to fat toothpicks with frayed ends, were the first versions of what people use today to clean their teeth. Here’s a look at what came next in the history of the toothbrush.

The History of the Toothbrush: Ancient Babylonia

Believe it or not, the earliest civilizations also liked to have fresh breath. This is why they chose their chewing sticks carefully. Taking twigs from nicely scented trees, the Babylonians created chewing sticks with dual purposes. One end of the stick was chewed until it became frayed and could act as a small cleaning brush for the teeth. The other end of the stick was used to free trapped particles of food from their teeth. This was the first design in the history of the toothbrush.


The History of the Toothbrush: Ancient China

During the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, the Chinese fashioned a toothbrush from hog hair, bamboo, and animal bone. Since hog hair is coarse, using this device wasn’t very pleasant, but it did clean the teeth. Traders and other travelers to the area would marvel at these primitive toothbrushes, taking one or more of them back home with them.


The History of the Toothbrush: the English Make a Better Version

During the late eighteenth century, an imprisoned man by the name of William Addis put together a toothbrush made from pig hair, cattle bone, and glue. He made holes in the bone, threaded the hairs through, and glued them in place.


The History of the Toothbrush: the First Patent

Although he used the same materials (pig hair and animal bone) to make his version of the toothbrush, H.N. Wadsworth is the first person to patent the creation in this momentous phase of the history of the toothbrush.

The History of the Toothbrush: the Introduction of Synthetic Fibres

The first nylon toothbrush, which is quite similar to modern versions, was designed in 1938. Its synthetic bristles made these toothbrushes popular, because they were so soft.