Dating as far back as 3000 to 5000 B.C., toothpaste has been a part of basic oral care. In the beginning, it was mostly used as a means of keeping the teeth and gums clean and maintaining fresh breath. Today, it is also used as a preventative step against developing many specific diseases and conditions such as tooth sensitivity.
What started as abrasive and unsavory powders and pastes gradually developed into a smooth “paste” that became readily sold in jars in the 1850s. Shortly later, toothpaste became available in the tubes we have all come to know and love. Here’s the complete history, from early beginnings to the present day.
The Ancient Egyptians were the first to take action towards preserving their oral health. Before toothbrushes were even thought of, they began cleaning—or scrubbing—their teeth with a special paste. They used powdered ashes from oxen hooves, myrrh, eggshells, pumice and water to create the first “toothpaste.” This original dental cream probably wasn’t very effective or tasty, but the effort inspired future modifications that would eventually lead to the toothpaste we use today.
Thousands of years later, the citizens in Greece and Rome added crushed bones and oyster shells to the powdery mixture in order to create more abrasiveness and cleaning power. They also added charcoal and bark to the concoction in order to improve the taste and help fight bad breath. During this time, China and India were also using this paste. The Chinese versions were likely much more palatable than other early pastes, since they included ingredients like Ginseng, salt and herbal mints.
Modern development of toothpaste didn’t really begin until the 1800s. Soap became an added ingredient to the crude mixture in the early 1800s, and chalk was added in the 1850s. That’s around the time when a true “paste” called a Crème Dentifrice began selling in jars. Colgate began mass production of the first commercial toothpaste in jars in 1873, and in 1890, toothpaste began selling in plastic tubes similar to today’s modern-day tubes. This stuff worked better than the earlier pastes, though it still contained some pretty abrasive ingredients.
The 1900s to Now
In 1914, the introduction of fluoride to help prevent tooth decay changed toothpaste forever. Abrasion was also drastically reduced during this time frame, thanks to the addition of sweeteners and more synthetic materials. A foaming agent called sodium lauryl sulphate (still used in today’s toothpastes) transformed the gritty paste into a smooth consistency. By the late 1950s and early 1960s, fluoride toothpaste had become the standard paste used in most American households. Since the 1980s, there have been numerous additions, such as whitening agents, gels, toothpastes designed specifically for tooth sensitivity and more.
Consult With Daxon Dentistry
Brushing your teeth regularly with toothpaste is the first step towards maintaining your oral health. Sometimes, however, it is necessary to do more for your teeth and gums. If you are in need of a specific dental service—such as restorative dentistry or cosmetic dentistry, TMJ Therapy or Prosthodontics—call us at Daxon Dentistry right away. We offer a wide array of cosmetic dentistry services and restorative procedures, and we can address any questions or concerns you may have. Contact us today to set up an appointment.