From Twigs to Toothbrushes
It was a long way from chewing twigs, to the first Oral-B toothbrush, created by Dr. Robert Hutson, a periodontist.
But 5000 years ago, twigs were just what ancient Egyptians used to clean their chompers. The slender tip of a tree branch was broken off, and then chewed until the end was frayed. This served as a brush to clean around their teeth, and had the benefit of being easy to find next time they needed a new one.
The first tool actually made in brush form for the teeth, originated in China, circa 1498A.D., when the bristles from a hog's neck, were embedded in handles of bone or bamboo. European adventurers brought the invention back to their home countries, where it seemed that horsehair replaced the pig bristles. It was a while catching on though, as those few who did practice dental care, generally used the "old-fashioned" Roman toothpick.
Not until 1938, when the Dupont Company invented nylon, would the modern toothbrush take the form of a plastic or wood handle with nylon bristles. In the 1940s, Hutson produced the Oral-B 60, so named for its 60 rounded, soft bristles. The company name was derived from "oral hygiene" with a "B" for "better".