Monday, August 02, 2021

Essential Dental Care – All About Toothbrushes and Toothpaste!

Arguably the most common dental supplies in Sydney and throughout Australia and the world, toothbrushes and toothpaste are used by all of us daily, between our regular dental clinic visits. 

Cleaning the teeth is intrinsic to maintaining dental and oral health, fresh breath, and overall well-being.

Here are some fun, fascinating facts about toothbrushes and toothpaste…

Did You Know?

The Ancients

  • Humans have used tools to clean their teeth since at least the ancient Babylonians and Egyptians of 5000-5500 years ago. They made a type of brush for the teeth using a frayed twig. Toothpicks have also been found in some ancient Egyptian tombs, amongst the tomb goods that were to accompany the dead to the Afterlife.
  • It’s widely accepted that the ancient Egyptians were the first to use toothpaste for cleaning their teeth, and this dates back more than 7000 years ago. The ancient Romans and Greeks also used toothpaste, as did the ancient Chinese and Indians.
  • Used in the same way as we do to keep the teeth clean, breath fresh, gums healthy, and to help whiten teeth, ancient kinds of toothpaste varied in terms of their contents. Some included volcanic pumice stone combined with ash, burnt eggshell, and powdered ox hooves. The ancient Greeks and Romans preferred an abrasive paste and used crushed oyster shells and bones. Ancient Romans added powdered charcoal and aromatic bark to help freshen the breath. The ancient Chinese included salt, herbs including mint, and ginseng into their toothpaste for freshness and to enhance the flavor.
  • In 1600BC, the ancient Chinese made chewing sticks from twigs taken from aromatic trees. These were used to help freshen the breath. The Chinese also developed the first toothbrush with natural bristles. They attached the bristly hairs from a pig’s neck area to a handle made of bamboo or bone. This Chinese toothbrush design found its way to Europe, where it was altered and adapted to replace the bristles with horsehair or even feathers.


  • The first modern toothbrush was invented in 1780 by Englishman William Addis, who came up with the idea while he was in prison. It featured a carved cow bone handle and pig bristles.
  • The world’s first three-row bristle toothbrush was designed in 1844. 
  • The earliest modern toothpastes also date to the 1800s. These were tooth powders rather than pastes, and they often contained soap (which was included in toothpaste until 1945). By the 1850s, chalk was incorporated as well. Many English toothpastes of the time featured Betel nut (which had a stimulant effect and several potentially severe side effects including chest pain, kidney disease, cardiac and breathing issues, and oral cancer). 
  • The first toothpaste in a jar was introduced to the market in the 1850s; it was called Crème Dentrifice. In the 1860s, many people made their own toothpaste at home using ground charcoal. In 1873, Colgate began mass-producing toothpaste in jars; in the 1890s toothpaste was available for purchase in tubes similar to what we use today.
  • The first toothpaste containing fluoride was introduced in 1914, to help prevent tooth decay (this was many decades before the drinking water supply had fluoride added to it).
  • Until the 1930s, many of the mass-produced toothbrushes for sale in Europe were imported from China. All toothbrushes used natural bristles (usually Siberian hog hair) until 1938 when Du Pont invented nylon and the Miracle Tuft Toothbrush, a soft-bristled toothbrush went on the market. Even softer synthetic bristles were incorporated into toothbrushes in the 1950s.
  • From 1945, soap was removed from toothpaste recipes, and it was replaced by other ingredients which enabled the paste to become a smooth emulsion rather than a gritty, powdery product.
  • Broxodent was the world’s first electric toothbrush to make it onto the US market in 1960, however, the electric toothbrush was originally invented in Europe in 1939.

Modern Day

  • Toothpaste formulas have been developed over the last seventy years to address specific dental issues – e.g., formulas for whitening, low-abrasiveness, to target stains or gingivitis, to prevent tartar, plaque, and cavities, and to suit the tastes and needs of children.
  • Modern toothpastes are made with a wide array of ingredients, including fluoride, flavoring, coloring, sugar-free sweeteners, stabilizing agents, and compounds to ensure the paste remains smooth, moist, and that it foams when used.
  • Dentists and doctors recommend brushing twice daily with a soft-bristled toothbrush for two minutes each time. They also advise that toothbrushes be kept at least two meters from the toilet (and be covered or kept in a cabinet if possible) to prevent airborne bacteria spreading to it when the toilet is flushed (lid down, too!).

See your dentist every 6 months for a check and professional clean. Explore your options to find the perfect toothbrush and toothpaste to suit your taste and comfort level – and don’t forget to floss!

By Alana Wills on behalf of

Alana Wills is an experienced freelance content writer who works in collaboration with, a leading online distributor of dental supplies in Australia.

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