- Find a Practice
Treatments & Services
- For Patients
- Partner with Us
Whether you’ve ever wondered about the origins of your toothbrush or are keen to brush up on your toothbrush knowledge, we’ve got thirty fantastic toothbrush facts that might just surprise you!
While we reach for our toothbrushes every day (or, at least, we should be!), most of us don’t know much about this humble cleaning device - such as when the toothbrush was first invented, what toothbrushes are made from, and how often you should replace them.
To help you brush up on your toothbrush knowledge, we’ve put together 30 fun facts about the toothbrush, so you’ll be a little more clued up next time you reach for your toothbrush.
Toothbrush Fact 1: The first bristled toothbrush was invented in China during the Tang Dynasty (619-907). It didn’t make it to Europe until over a thousand years later when travellers to China brought it back during the 17th century.
Toothbrush Fact 2: Dentists recommend that you should keep your toothbrush at least two metres away from the toilet to avoid the spread of airborne bacteria during flushing.
Toothbrush Fact 3: The first nylon bristle toothbrush - made with nylon yarn - went on sale in 1938.
Toothbrush Fact 4: All the way back in 3000 B.C. the ancient Egyptians made crude toothbrushes from twigs and leaves to clean their teeth. The Greeks, Romans, and Indians also used twigs to clean their teeth - they would even fray one end so that it could reach between the teeth more effectively.
Toothbrush Fact 5: Until the early 1900s, toothbrush bristles were generally made of Siberian hog hair. However, in 1938, the soft-bristled Miracle Tuft Toothbrush was invented - and within a decade, Oral-B was mass-producing soft-bristled toothbrushes similar to the ones we use today.
Toothbrush Fact 6: The first mass-produced toothbrush was made by William Addis in England.
Toothbrush Fact 7: The story of how Addis started mass-producing the toothbrush is an interesting one! While serving a prison sentence, he decided that the teeth-cleaning methods of the time (which involved rubbing a rag covered in soot and salt over teeth) needed improving. He drilled small holes into an animal bone and got some bristles from prison guards, which he tied in tufts and passed through the holes, sealing them with glue. After his release, he started manufacturing his toothbrush creation, which would make him extremely rich!
Toothbrush Fact 8: Up until the mid-20th century, many mass-produced toothbrushes made with horse or boar bristle were imported to England from China.
Toothbrush Fact 9: More than half of us admit that we would share our toothbrush with somebody else! 24% would share our toothbrush with our partner, 18% with our child, 7% with a friend, and 6% with a celebrity (side note, we don’t recommend sharing your toothbrush!).
Toothbrush Fact 10: The first environmentally-friendly toothbrush was invented by Jack Hokanson. Called the Hoke2 brush, it featured a non-disposable handle with a replaceable bristle head.
Toothbrush Fact 11: One in ten people admit they regularly forget to brush their teeth.
Toothbrush Fact 12: In 2003, the toothbrush was selected as the number one invention the American public could not live without.
Toothbrush Fact 13: The first electric toothbrush - called the Broxodent - was invented in Switzerland in 1954.
Toothbrush Fact 14: In the past, pig bristle was used for cheaper toothbrushes, while badger hair was used for more expensive ones.
Toothbrush Fact 15: Modern toothbrushes feature bristles grouped in clumps of around 40 tufts, which are folded over a metal staple, inserted into holes in the brush head and fused together.
Toothbrush Fact 16: In the United States, brushing your teeth didn’t become a daily routine until after World War II. During the war, the US Army enforced toothbrushing among soldiers, who then brought the habit home with them.
Toothbrush Fact 17: Flossing is an important part of your daily oral hygiene routine - but it doesn’t matter whether you brush first or floss first, as long as you do it correctly.
Toothbrush Fact 18: To keep your toothbrush clean, rinse it with water after brushing and store it in an upright position so it can air-dry. If there are multiple toothbrushes in your household, keep them separate to avoid cross-contamination.
Toothbrush Fact 19: The world’s most expensive toothbrush costs US$4,000. It’s made of titanium – and it isn’t even electric!
Toothbrush Fact 20: Your toothbrush could save your life. Brushing your teeth can reduce your chances of contracting periodontal disease (as it reduces bacterial build-up in your mouth), which can increase the risk of developing cardiovascular disease, arthritis, and pneumonia.
Toothbrush Fact 21: The average person spends a total of 38.5 days brushing their teeth during their lifetime.
Toothbrush Fact 22: Sharing your toothbrush is not a good idea. Besides being generally unhygienic, toothbrush-sharing increases the risk of spreading diseases transmittable by blood, such as Hepatitis C.
Toothbrush Fact 23: If the bristles on your toothbrush become worn out, they won’t clean your teeth as effectively, so dentists recommend you replace your toothbrush when you notice the bristles are worn (generally between six and sixteen weeks).
Toothbrush Fact 24: The electric toothbrush was first sold in the United States in 1960.
Toothbrush Fact 25: Brushing your teeth three times a day for two minutes each time can burn more than 3,500 calories a year - that means you could lose one kilo per year just by brushing your teeth!
Toothbrush Fact 26: The average toothbrush contains around 2,500 bristles.
Toothbrush Fact 27: A study by the Academy of General Dentistry reported that the average person only brushes for 45-70 seconds a day. However, dentists recommend brushing your teeth for at least two minutes per session.
Toothbrush Fact 28: It’s a good idea to replace your toothbrush after you’ve had the flu, a cold, or any other viral infection, as germs can remain on the bristles and lead to re-infection.
Toothbrush Fact 29: Americans spend over US$850 million a year on toothbrushes.
Toothbrush Fact 30: Think putting a cap on your toothbrush is a good way to protect it? Think again! Caps will trap moisture which can cause bacteria to grow, so are best avoided.
You can talk to your dentist about how to practice good oral hygiene and ensure you’re brushing your teeth correctly. Need to make an appointment? You can book online now.
Sources used in this article:
Please select a practice from the list below