Toothbrush set, c 1790.
© Science Museum / Science & Society Picture Library
A silver toothbrush set, once owned by Joseph Hardy Lindsey. The Chinese are credited with inventing the use of toothbrushes and toothpastes, although the ancient Egyptians used branches with frayed ends to clean their teeth. In the West, the use of toothbrushes began to be promoted by French dentists in the late 17th and early 18th centuries.