The Evolution of Toothpaste Over Time

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We all know that brushing your teeth twice a day is imperative for our oral health, but many people do not know how toothpaste came to be. Different forms of toothpastes have been around for thousands of years. Let’s explore the history and development of toothpaste together.

Around 5000BC, the Egyptians started to use a paste to clean their teeth. This was before toothbrushes were even invented. Ancient Greeks and Romans also used toothpastes. In China and India, toothpaste was first introduced around 500BC.

Ancient toothpastes were used to address some of the same things that modern toothpastes do: cleaning the teeth and gums, whitening teeth, and freshening breath. The oldest toothpaste formula that we know was created by the Egyptians. They used crushed rock salt, pepper, mint, and dried iris flowers. Different countries and peoples used different ingredients for their toothpastes. Some used things like ox hoof powder, ashes, and burnt eggshells to clean their teeth. Greeks and Romans included crushed bones and oyster shells in their toothpastes. Some countries added ingredients to help with bad breath.

In 1780, people scrubbed their teeth with a powder made from burnt bread. In 1824, a dentist (Peabody) added soap to toothpaste to aid in cleaning the teeth. In later years, sodium lauryn sulfate was used for this purpose. Colgate developed the first commercially produced toothpaste in 1873. It was nice smelling and sold in a jar. Dr. Washington Sheffield was the first person to put toothpaste in a collapsible tube. It is believed that this version of toothpaste is most similar to the modern version.

Toothpastes continued to develop in the 1900s. In 1914, fluoride was added to toothpastes because it was discovered that fluoride significantly decreases cavities. In 1975, herbal toothpastes were developed as an alternative to fluoride toothpastes. In 1987, edible toothpaste was invented by NASA so that astronauts could brush their teeth in space without spitting into zero gravity. This edible toothpaste is now used by children who are learning to brush their teeth. The first whitening toothpaste was invented in 1989.

Modern toothpastes typically contain fluoride, coloring, flavoring, sweetener, and ingredients that make the toothpaste a smooth paste that foams and stays moist. Toothpastes come in tubes throughout the world.

We invite you to contact Smile Big Pediatric Dentistry today to learn more about toothpaste in Humble, Texas, and to schedule a visit. Our dentists, Drs. Umansky, Nino, and Zafer, look forward to serving you and your smile!