Toothbrushes Made With Pig Hair: The History Of The Toothbrush


The History Of The Toothbrush

Toothbrushes Made With Pig Hair: The History Of The Toothbrush

To some of you, this might sound gross but it’s true. Our ancestors used toothbrushes made with pig hair. All this was because of the intrinsic mechanism of self-love and care that exists in human beings. It was self-love that induced mankind to take care of their oral hygiene.

In this article, we’ll shine some light on the history of the toothbrush and the story behind pig hair. Moreover, we’ll also talk about the mysterious spectacle of toothbrush invention in England’s prison cell. Furthermore, contributions made by the United States Army will also be highlighted.

Toothbrushes Of The Babylonian Era:

Babylonians’ era dates back to 3500 B.C. The use of tree twigs was employed by the people of this era, as a means of oral care. These were pencil-sized twigs that were cut off from Neem or Arak tree. Currently, these trees are well-known in Asia, Europe, and the Middle East due to their major role in homeopathic medicine.

These twigs are still used in some parts of the world and are well-known by other names; miswak, siwak, and dantakastha.

Toothbrushes Of The Roman Era:

Before the Babylonians, teeth were brushed using the index finger and coal powder. The use of twigs continued in the Roman era. Apart from twigs, Romans employed the use of porcupine quills as a toothpick. Another innovation made by them was the invention of toothpaste. Their toothpaste included egg and oyster shells, pumice, and pieces of crushed bone. This concept of innovation kept on growing.

Toothbrushes Made With Hog Hair:

China came up with the first “bristle-type” toothbrush. This was reported by a Japanese writer named Dogen Kigen. In his writings, he mentioned that he saw Chinese monks clean their teeth with bristled toothbrushes. These toothbrushes consisted of an animal bone with small holes containing bristles. These hard bristles were hog (pig) hair; pulled from the neck of a hog.

All the above-mentioned contributions were made by the people of Tang Dynasty. For those of you wondering; Tang Dynasty is one of the majestic dynasties of China of the 7th - 10th century.

From Hog Hair To Horse Hair:

The bristle-type brushes of China came to Europe by means of a trade route called The Silk Road. Europeans employed the use of horse bristles, instead of a hog, as they found them to be softer. 

The word “toothbrush” was first used by Anthony Wood in his biography named; The Life and Times of Anthony Wood. In this book, Wood has described his journey of buying a toothbrush. Till the 18th century, toothbrushes were considered an item of luxury i.e. they were used by the elite class only.

Role Of England’s Prison In Toothbrush Invention:

Now, we’ll talk about a strange spectacle that happened in a prison of London in the18th century.

Prisons of England used rock, salt, and soot to clean their teeth. One of the prisoners found this method ineffective and took on the task of building a toothbrush. He took a bone from the leftover meal and shaped it into a handle. The prison guard was kind enough to provide him with hair, that he fixed onto the bone. Thus, the first economical toothbrush was created.

The prisoner’s name was William Addis. He started a company soon after his release and became rich in a matter of no time. His company, Wisdom, is still present and it produces 70 million toothbrushes per year in the UK.

The Proffer Of Nylon Bristles:

By the mid-20th century; a guy working at DuPont came up with an aim to make user-friendly innovations. He made synthetic nylon bristles and fixed them onto the brush handle. People of that era observed that these nylon bristles produce fewer bacteria than animal hairs. They also noted that nylon bristles were softer and more efficient in cleaning.

After the Vietnam War, US soldiers brought their military habits home. Among them, the most life-changing habit for humanity was brushing routinely. This notion of routine brushing made nylon bristles very popular.

Blooming Of The Electric Era:

Blueprint of the first electric toothbrush was proposed in Switzerland in 1939. This toothbrush was not liberated until 1954. In the later part of the decade; this electric brush was advertised by one of the biggest pharmaceutical companies, Squibb.

In the following century, wireless electric toothbrushes came up in the market. These were put forth by General Electric. The tech world went one step further and introduced a sonic clean toothbrush, Interplak, in 1987.

Toothbrushes Of The Present Era:

Since the dawn of electric era, competition among the electric toothbrush companies kept on increasing with time. All of them were laser-focused on a mission to produce user-friendly electric toothbrushes that are not only durable but also cost-effective. One such company is FOSOO. Toothbrushes of this brand have been significantly gaining popularity due to their efficacy and durability. They have a slogan that says:

“Changing the world One smile at a time”


We have unfolded the archaeological evolution of the dental world from pig hair and animal bones to modern electric toothbrushes. We have also talked about the time when a prisoner contributed to the betterment of humanity.

Hence, take care of your oral hygiene, brush twice and use floss daily.

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