The toothbrush is an essential oral hygiene tool used to clean the tongue, gums and teeth. Studies have shown that brushing one’s teeth on a regular basis, while using proper techniques will help to remove plaque from teeth. Removing plaque prevents the build-up and calcification, which if left alone will harden into calculus or tartar (1, 4). This is why plaque removal may constitute the single most important oral health activity and prevention method to fight cavities, gingivitis and gum disease. When used with a bead of toothpaste, the toothbrush is also an effective tool at cleaning hard-to-reach areas and removing food particles from in-between the teeth.
The history of the toothbrush goes back to ancient times. Excavations have put the date on these instruments as far back as 3000 BC. Throughout history the toothbrush has been a variety of different materials and been used in different ways, but at the core it was there to serve one purpose which is to clean the mouth. Ancient Roman and Greek writing discussed the practice of using toothpicks to clean the teeth and mouth. It was also been documented that ancient Babylonians used chewing sticks to clean their teeth.
Around 1600 BC, the Chinese people chewed on a twig until one end became brush-like. They would then fashion the opposite end of the stick to a point and use it to clean food particles from between teeth. Later on, in 1600 AD, China became the birthplace of the first “true bristle” toothbrush, which is an instrument made of bristle boar hairs attached to a bamboo or bone handle.