Updated: 2/4/2020 Imagine your life without your toothbrush and toothpaste. Now imagine your family and friends’ lives without a toothbrush and toothpaste. Not a pretty picture, is it? We often…

Evolution of Dental Hygiene

The Evolution of Dental Hygiene: Part One

Updated: 2/4/2020

Imagine your life without your toothbrush and toothpaste. Now imagine your family and friends’ lives without a toothbrush and toothpaste. Not a pretty picture, is it?

We often take toothbrushes, toothpastes and dentists for granted, but without them we’d be at a greater risk of having yellowing and deteriorating teeth, gum disease, bad breath or even missing teeth, like many of our ancestors! Fortunately, that’s not the case for us. While we still struggle with all of these problems, the risk is lessened by these spectacular inventions. Find out how these life-altering inventions first came to be and how they have evolved over time in our two-part series, The Evolution of Dental Hygiene.

The Toothbrush

What do you think people did before Oral-B’s toothbrush, or any toothbrush you can find in stores today for that matter? How did they brush their teeth? Did they just have to go day after day without brushing their teeth? Well, some people did. Luckily, toothbrushes date back to 3,500 B.C. Now, they didn’t have our Oral-B toothbrush or whatever kind of toothbrush you use, but they did find materials in their culture and time period that would get the job done. Here we’ll look at where the toothbrush first began and how it has evolved over time.

Click on image to enlarge

The Evolution of the Toothbrush

It’s fascinating to see how far we’ve come, isn’t it? At the same time, it’s amazing how close in form the toothbrush has stayed—a stick with bristles at the end, essentially.

Today, we have so many toothbrushes to choose from, but back then people were very limited, as you can see in our infographic. There were only one or two kinds to choose from. Now, we can choose a toothbrush that is straight, angled, curved; that has grips or no grips; that has soft or hard bristles; that is manual or electric. They even make toothbrushes specifically designed for kids, as you can see in The Best Toothbrush for Your Kids.


Just like the toothbrush, there’s evidence that some type of dentistry was being practiced as far back as 7,000 B.C. in Pakistan—what was then known as the Indus Valley Civilization. Researchers believe that craftsmen would use drills made of flint heads as a way to remove tooth enamel and rotting dental tissue.

These were not, however, considered the first official dentists. The first professional dentists—known as barber-surgeons—didn’t get their start until the beginning of the thirteenth century in Europe; and it wasn’t until the early eighteenth century that the profession of dentistry emerged.

Pierre Fauchard of France, known as the Father of Modern Dentistry, created a treatise on the foundations of dentistry in 1728. He described oral anatomy and physiology and laid out detailed methods that should be used to remove decay and restore teeth, how to treat periodontal disease and how to perform orthodontic surgery and tooth replacement. His treatise laid the groundwork for the future of dentistry.

By 1840, the world’s first school of dentistry was established at Baltimore College of Dental Surgery. By the year 1870, there were nine dental schools in the United States.


Life just wouldn’t be the same without the toothbrush and the dental industry. They keep our teeth clean and healthy—not to mention how that benefits our overall health. But they aren’t the only ones. Next week we’ll look at the development and growth of toothpaste and floss and how tooth-brushing became a daily, regular routine.

What kind of toothbrush do you use?









Natasha is 1Dental’s managing editor and copywriter, focusing content on dental and health news, advice and tips straight from the experts. She graduated from the University of Oklahoma with a bachelor’s degree in Journalism and Mass Communication and has since been a book editor and now copywriter and managing editor on dental and health. You can find her on Twitter and all of 1Dental’s social networks.


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