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’.

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