The Development of Toothpaste

Brushing and flossing the teeth is imperative to oral health. Did you know that people have been cleaning their teeth and caring for their smiles since as early as 5000 BC? Let’s take a little journey through the history of toothpaste.

The Egyptians started using a paste to clean their teeth around 5000 BC. Other ancient civilizations used toothpastes as well, such as the Greeks and Romans. In China and India, toothpaste developed around 500 BC.

While ancient toothpastes had many of the same purposes as today—cleaning the gums and teeth, freshening breath, and whitening teeth—the ingredients were quite different and varied. Ancient toothpastes included ingredients like ox hooves, ashes, burnt eggshells, and pumice. The Greeks and Romans used crushed bones and oyster shells in their toothpastes, as they preferred abrasiveness. The Romans also used flavoring to lessen bad breath. They also used powdered charcoal and bark. In 4 AD, the Egyptians used crushed rock salt, mint, dried iris flowers, and pepper to create a teeth cleaning powder.

In the 1800s, toothpastes began using soap as one of the ingredients. Ingredients like chalk and ground charcoal were also used. During the 1850s, tooth cleaners developed from being powders to being an actual paste. Toothpaste in a jar called Crème Dentifrice was the first of these pastes. In 1873, Colgate began the mass production of toothpaste in jars.

Fluoride became a toothpaste ingredient in 1914 and in 1945, the soap in toothpastes was replaced by ingredients like sodium lauryl sulfate, which makes the paste smooth. In 1987, edible toothpaste was developed. This toothpaste is now used by children who are learning to brush their teeth. However, edible toothpaste was first invented by NASA so that astronauts could brush their teeth without having to spit in zero-gravity.

Feel free to contact Smiles Dental for more information about the history of toothpaste and dental health in Riddle, Oregon, and to schedule an appointment. Dr. Natanael Repta is so excited to welcome you and your family to our dental family!