The Scottish Mail on Sunday
5,500 years of keeping pearly whites clean
3500 BC A chewing stick was first used by ancient Egyptians and Babylonians. It was a thin twig with a frayed end that was then rubbed against the teeth. It is still used in some communities today. 1498 The first bristle toothbrush was invented in China. It used coarse boar hairs attached to a handle made of bamboo or bone. 1700 In Britain the favoured way of cleaning teeth was rubbing with a linen cloth dipped in soot and salt – a practice still used in Victorian times. 1780 Rag-maker William Addis invented a toothbrush made of cow tail hair pulled through drilled cow bone. He came up with the idea while in prison for causing a riot. 1938 The modern toothbrush with nylon bristles was invented by American company DuPont de Nemours. 1954 The first electric brush was invented in Switzerland by Dr Philippe Guy Woog. It was introduced as the Broxodent in America in 1959 for the ‘overlyvigorous type of toothbrushers’.