Toothpaste seems to have been around forever. The truth is it actually does date back to about 5000 BC. The ancient Egyptians used their own formulation of a paste with the ends of twigs which were pulled apart enough to create a rudimentary brush. By the 500s BC, China and India took to creating powders for the purpose of cleaning teeth, gums and for freshening breath. It seems that the Egyptians had created the basic formula for toothpaste by crushing rock salt and mixing it with flowers or mint leaves. This formulation was highly abrasive and toothpaste had thousands of years to go to become the product we are so familiar with today. The Chinese added to the Egyptian toothpaste by flavoring their powders and pastes using herbs and Ginseng. Meanwhile, the Greeks and Romans also had a toothpaste or powder made from the ashes of ox hooves and eggshells. These ingredients were blended with pumice creating a powerful tooth cleaner that most certainly had its abrasive side. The Romans worked to make the blend tolerable to the palate using charcoal or tree bark. More interesting facts can be found at this site www.yourbrightestsmile.com.
As for more modern toothpastes, they werent developed until the 1800s. Up until the 1780s, people made do with burnt toast to clean their teeth. Today, there is a trend where people are turning back to activated charcoal to whiten teeth. It seems that the one ingredient that would turn teeth black actually helps to clean them and people have been aware of this for centuries. In the 1800s, people experimented with chalk and soap as toothpaste bases. The English created a more advanced toothpaste using betel nut and – a familiar cleaning agent – ground up charcoal. The soap used in some formulas was soon switched out with sodium laurel sulfate to make a smooth paste. It didnt take long for a company like Colgate to find a way to produce and market this kind of product to the masses.
Colgate made the first official toothpaste in 1873. It was sold in a jar and it smelled nothing like betel nuts, charcoal or ox hooves. It smelled nice, and it encouraged people to get busy brushing their teeth. So much for powders and pastes in jars! What most people want to know is when toothpaste started being sold commercial in a tube. This occurred in 1886 when Dr. Washington Sheffield created a tube into which the paste could be placed. He called his product Crème Dentifrice and it was not long before Colgate picked up on this novel container and began selling their product in a tube. Toothpaste had finally arrived but it wasnt until the early 1900s when an advertising executive by the name of Claude C. Hopkins created an ad campaign for a product called Pepsodent. This campaign outlined the reasons why people needed to brush their teeth with toothpaste every day. He is credited with creating the toothbrushing habit.
Since then, toothpaste has been relatively the same with the exception of some historical highlights. In 1914, fluoride started getting added to pastes because it prevented cavities. And, while it was never uncommon to accidentally swallow toothpaste, edible paste didnt come on the market until 1987. It was a derivative of a product invented for astronauts who didnt have the convenience of rinsing the toothpaste out into a sink after brushing. They could safely swallow the paste with no worries. Finally, most everyone is familiar with whitening toothpastes today. But, the real forerunner of todays whitening toothpastes came from a company that put Rembrandt toothpaste on the market in the late 1980s. As you can see there are more options available today than ever before. Only time will tell as to what new methods and products will be discovered in the future to keep our mouth and teeth healthy and looking good.