Toothpaste: A History

Posted .

Where did toothpaste come from? How long have people been using it to clean their smile? Our pediatric dentist and team would love to enlighten you on the history of toothpaste.

Around 5000 BC, the Egyptians began using a paste to clean their teeth. This was before any form of toothbrush had been invented. Those in Ancient Greek and Rome are also known to have used toothpastes. Around 500 BC, forms of toothpaste were used in China and India.

Ancient peoples wanted some of the same things out of their toothpastes as we do today. They wished to clean their teeth and gums, freshen their breath, and whiten their teeth. Despite this, the ingredients used were very different than what we use today. Some popular ingredients for toothpaste included:

– Ox hooves
– Ashes
– Burned eggshells
– Pumice
– Crushed bones
– Oyster shells
– Charcoal
– Bark
– Salt
– Herbal mints
– Ginseng

More modern forms of toothpastes began to be developed in the 1800s. Early versions used soap, chalk, or charcoal. Before the 1850s, many toothpastes were actually powders. The first toothpaste in a jar was developed in 1850 and toothpaste in jars began being mass produced in 1873.

Until about 1945, toothpastes contained soap. After that, the soap was replaced by ingredients that smoothed the paste, like sodium lauryl sulphate. Sodium lauryl sulphate is still a common ingredient in toothpaste.

Today, toothpastes have been developed to help prevent specific dental issues and disease. Fluoride toothpastes have been made to help prevent tooth decay. Other toothpastes have been developed to help prevent bad breath or to help whiten the teeth.

We invite you to contact Pima Pediatric Dentistry today at 520-748-7073 to learn more and to schedule your child’s next visit with Dr. Sophie Baird. Our pediatric dentist in Tucson, Arizona, looks forward to serving your smile!