Today it seems like people shuffle through hundreds of toothbrushes that line the market shelves, hoping that the latest and greatest model will deliver healthy smiles. With the evolution of toothbrushes, cleaning teeth and taking care of gums is simpler than ever – but this wasn’t always the case. Take a look below to learn which techniques and practices helped inventors mold the toothbrush into what it is today.

3500 BC – Egyptians and Babylonians use chewing sticks made from branches of the Salvadora Persica tree. They also used boar bristles attached to a bamboo stick to clean teeth.

1600 BC – In China people start using chew sticks made of plant limbs and roots. One end of the stick was beaten into soft fibers to help scrub and brush teeth. In fact, these types of chewing sticks are still used by some people today.

1498 – Europeans start traveling to China to obtain toothbrushes made of bamboo and hog bristles. This invention quickly caught on in Europe.

1780 – William Addis of Clerkenwald, England introduces the first mass-produced toothbrush in Europe made from cattle bone and swine fibers.

1857 – H.N. Wadsworth becomes the first American to patent a toothbrush.

1885 – Toothbrushes are mass-produced in the US by the Florence Manufacturing Company of Massachusetts.

1938 – Nylon bristles replace bristles made of pig innards.

1960 – The first electric toothbrush is introduced to the US by the Squibb Company. The model was marketed under the name Broxodent.

1987 – The first at-home rotary style toothbrush is introduced to the US by Interplak.

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