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Learn More about the History of Toothpaste

By Bruce Wilderman on December 14, 2016

Toothbrush and toothpasteSurprisingly, the earliest forms of toothpaste have been traced back thousands of years. Of course, what the Ancient Egyptians used to clean their teeth is much different than the toothpastes we use today. Understanding the history of toothpaste allows us to continue advancing dental care. At our Philadelphia, PA dental office, we keep abreast of all the latest advancements and trends in general and restorative dentistry, so we can ensure we are recommending the best products for our patients.

A Brief History of Toothpaste

Below is a brief timeline of toothpaste’s history.

  • 5000 BC: The Egyptians used abrasive combinations such as rock salt with mint, iris, and pepper, to freshen their breath and clean their teeth. Although effective at keeping the teeth clean, the abrasive nature is damaging to the gums. In ancient Rome and Greece, other abrasives such as crushed bones or oyster shells were used, in addition to charcoal and bark.
  • 500 BC: People of China and India began using various versions of toothpaste that included different types of mint, salts, and ginseng.
  • 1700s: In the 1700s, people used crumbled pieces of burnt bread.
  • 1800s: Soap was eventually added to toothpaste formulas to clean and eliminate bacteria. Most toothpastes in the early 1800s came as a powder. By the 1850s, a jarred toothpaste had been developed. In 1873, Colgate was one of the first companies to mass-produce this jarred toothpaste. It was not until the late 1890s that toothpaste in a tube was invented.
  • 1900s: Toothpaste creators began adding fluoride to their products in the early 1900s after research showed it helped reduce cavities. Most toothpastes at this time were still fairly abrasive, but less so than what had been previously used. As controversies over the benefits of fluoride became apparent, fluoride-free options were developed in 1975. NASA created the first edible toothpaste in 1987 for its astronauts, but the edible options have become popular with young children. The first whitening toothpaste was developed by Rembrandt in 1989.

Our Toothpaste Options Today

In modern society, our toothpastes are far less abrasive. They come in different colors, contain fluoride, and may contain artificial colors and sweeteners. As consumers grow more concerned about what they put in their bodies, toothpastes and other dental products free from dyes and sweeteners have grown in popularity.

Whitening toothpastes are also extremely popular, as we continue to have concerns about the aesthetics of our smiles. Many special formulas, like those geared toward patients with sensitivity, are available over-the-counter.

With so many options available, some patients are unsure about which products are right for them. Dr. Bruce Wilderman can recommend the best products for each patient’s individual needs. Whether you suffer from sensitivity or want to maintain a brighter smile, we can help you find the best toothpaste for you and your family.

Pick the Right Toothpaste for Your Family

If you need help choosing the right toothpaste for you and your family, contact our office. Our staff is happy to recommend our favorite products and help you decide.

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