Parents have been telling their children to brush their teeth for at least 6,000 years. Archaeological excavations have uncovered evidence of ancient tooth cleaning implements, including twigs, feathers, bones, and quills. In fact, tooth brushing tools have been found as early as 3500 BCE in the Babylonian and Egyptian cultures, when people used frayed ends of twigs to scrub off bacteria and food particles.
Several early cultures used chewing sticks with aromatic or antiseptic properties, such as neem or miswak. The sticks not only cleaned teeth, but also freshened breath.
In 1498 in China, an enterprising soul plucked stiff hairs from a pig’s neck and attached the bristles to a bone or bamboo handle. When this toothbrush was adopted by the Europeans, they opted for softer bristles—using horsehairs or feathers. (more…)