The History of Toothpaste

September 4, 2018

vintage oral hygiene Ever considered how the paste you use daily came to be what it is today? It may not have crossed your mind, but this minty mixture has quite the history! Before we landed on a universally effective cleaning solution, our ancestors tried out several different approaches.

It Began with the Egyptians

Historians believed Egyptians were cleaning their teeth in 5,000 B.C., however, the earliest recipe dates back to the year 4 A.D. Ancient Egyptians blended mint, pepper, iris flowers, and rock salt to keep their pearly whites happy. At the time this may have been a bright idea, but today we know their teeth were probably more irritated than pleased!

Fortunately, we’ve made strides since then. Let’s take a look at the progress we have made throughout time…

The Evolution of Toothpaste

ginsengEgyptians weren’t the only ones to produce their own paste; Greeks and Romans used various methods, even adding crushed bones and oyster shells as scrubbing agents! The Chinese went a gentler route, including ingredients like ginseng, salt, and herbal mints to clean their mouths. So how did we land on our modern-day, fluoride filled toothpaste? Let’s start in the 1700’s.

1780: People begin brushing their teeth with burnt bread crumbs, which we could say is an upgrade from crushed bones!

1824: American dentist, Dr. Peabody, ditches toast and tries a soap powder. Later, soap powder was replaced by sodium lauryl sulfate to create a paste.

1850’s: Dr. John Harris adds chalk to toothpaste for cleaning purposes.

1873: Colgate launches the first decent smelling paste and sells this in glass jars.

1892: Dr. Washington Sheffield invents the collapsible tube, a common packaging method used today.

1914: Once fluoride benefits are discovered, this compound is added to toothpaste and water.

1987: NASA invents edible toothpaste for astronauts, giving them the ability to swallow their paste while in space! This invention also comes in handy for young children.

1989: Rembrandt comes out with the first claim to carry paste that whitens your smile.

Progress Over Time

We’ve gained a lot of wisdom over the years; today we use several brands of toothpaste boasting effective solutions for fighting plaque, tooth decay, and brightening your smile. At Flatirons Family Dental, we have the same goal in mind, to keep your teeth healthy and clean. But, we do skip the bread crumbs, bones, and oyster shells!

Posted In: Dental Hygiene