The History of Toothpaste

Oral hygiene has been documented over thousands of years. The first “toothbrush” dates back to around 3000 BC. Ancient Egyptians, Babylonians and Romans used toothpaste as well. In fact, Egyptians began using it before toothbrushes.

The modern toothbrush we use today wasn’t invented until the 1400s in China. Modern toothpaste, however, came much later in the 1850s.

Man has considered dental hygiene for a long time and, as time progressed, oral hygiene became more important as more study of the teeth and gums were commenced.

As the dental field has evolved, high-tech dental machinery, tools and equipment have been developed to make for a more routine, quick and less painful dental office experience.

Toothpaste has also developed, evolved and improved since its beginnings.

Man has been using it since 5000 BC, though it had no resemblance of modern-day toothpaste.

The various forms in the past had a myriad of ingredients including the ashes of ox hooves, crushed bone and oyster shells, eggshells, pumice, powdered bark and charcoal, salt, herbal mints and ginseng.

The original stuff resembled more of a powder than a paste that was rubbed over the teeth.

The modern stuff, as we know it, wasn’t developed until the mid-1800s. This solution was also a dry powder that was like chalk. Soap, charcoal and crushed betel nut were common ingredients in the 1850s and 1860s.

A few years later, a new toothpaste massed produced in jars resembled more of a paste than a powder.

Colgate began mass production of toothpaste in 1873 and by the end of the 1890s, the company began selling it in the iconic tube.

Fluoride was first used in toothpaste in 1914 to help prevent tooth decay. During this time, more specialized versions to treat specific dental conditions such as tooth sensitivity, and overzealous brushing, were introduced.

Soap was a common ingredient until 1945, after which point, sodium lauryl sulphate, became the central cleaning element.

These same ingredients are still commonly used today.

Toothpastes have continued to develop to the point where there are now a variety of options available to treat a variety of specific dental issues. These modern solutions today whiten teeth, protect against cavities, plaque, calculus, gum disease and bad breath.

In fact, many contain synthetic ingredients including coloring, flavoring, sweeteners, fluoride and ingredients that make the paste moist, smooth and foamy.

There has also been resurgence in the preference and use of toothpaste alternatives including the use of coconut water, essential oils, baking soda, and the comeback of charcoal, teeth soap and plain water.

The shift to these alternatives has stemmed largely from the increased popularity of more natural products that are seen as more beneficial and less harmful to the body. Most of these alternatives don’t have fluoride which some dental patients feel are hazardous to their health.

Whether you prefer regular or an alternative toothpaste, what really matters is that you’re using it every day. You can also ask your dentist what he or she recommends for the best dental care for your specific situation.