Before ADA-approved toothpaste became available in grocery stores, people had to create their own cleansing paste using various resources in their environments. The following is a brief history of toothpaste through the ages.
Historians credit the Egyptians with the earliest form of dental hygiene. Around 5000 BC, the Egyptians created an abrasive paste to clean their teeth. Greece, Rome, China and India all adopted variations of the cleansing paste by 500 BC.
These pastes consisted of organic materials such as powdered ox hoof, ashes and burnt eggshells, and the more abrasive pastes added crushed bones and oyster shells. The Romans and Chinese also added flavored ingredients, such as ginseng, salt and herbal mints to combat both bad breath and the taste of the other ingredients. These pastes, while effective in cleaning the teeth, would have also removed a lot of enamel (the protective layer of the teeth).
Pastes, used in conjunction with “chewing sticks,” remained fairly constant up until the 1800s, when soap became a key ingredient and Colgate began selling paste in jars as a means of mass production. By WWII, fluoride—perhaps the most important ingredient—was introduced and production companies switched to plastic tubes to reduce the war’s tin shortage. The paste also became significantly less abrasive, as companies began using foaming agents and sweeteners.
Modern toothpaste typically contains fluoride, coloring and flavoring agents, sodium lauryl sulphate and ingredients to make the paste soft and moist. Different brands of toothpaste provide a variety of flavors and purposes to appeal to all consumer types.
If you’re switching to a new toothpaste brand in Tustin, California, contact OC Advanced Periodontics at 714-730-7877. Dr. Patrick L. Huston, DDS, MSD can provide you with a professional recommendation as to which brand and style best fit your dental needs.