A Brief History of Toothpaste and Choosing the Right Product

By John Rink DDS on March 14, 2017

History of ToothpasteVariations of toothpaste have existed for thousands of years. The Egyptians were using a primitive form of toothpaste as early as 5000 BC. As dentists specializing in preventive, cosmetic, and restorative dentistry at Charleston Center for Cosmetic & Restorative Dentistry, we believe it is important to not only understand the history of toothpaste but how it has influenced the products we use today. The dentists at our Charleston, SC office can help you understand the modern day products available and choose one that will most benefit your smile.

A Brief History of Toothpaste

  • 5000 BC: Ancient Egyptians use an abrasive combination of mint, rock salt, iris, and pepper. The ancient Romans and Greeks used abrasive materials like oyster shells or bones, along with bark and charcoal.
  • 500 BC: The Chinese and Indians used a combination of mint, salt, and ginseng.
  • 1700s: In the 16th century, people used burnt bread and other abrasives to clean their teeth.
  • 1800s: In the early 1800s, most “toothpastes” were actually powders. Soap was added as a cleaning and antibacterial agent. In the 1850s, a jarred paste was developed, and in 1873, Colgate became one of the first companies to mass-produce the product. By the 1890s, a tube-like product similar to what we use today was developed.
  • 1900s: Fluoride was added to toothpastes in the early 1900s to help prevent cavities. Most toothpastes during this time were still fairly abrasive compared to today’s standards. Fluoride-free toothpastes became available in 1975, and the first edible toothpaste was developed by NASA in 1987. As people grew more concerned with the aesthetic aspects of their smile, whitening toothpastes were developed in 1989.

Does it Matter What Kind of Toothpaste You Use?

Believe it or not, yes, it matters. There are thousands of different toothpaste formulas available today. Deciding which one is right for you and your family can be a challenge. Our dentists are here to help. Following these guidelines will help ensure you and your family enjoy healthy smiles for years to come.

  • For Children: It is best to use toothpastes specially designed for children and their growing teeth. The edible formula created by NASA is what is used for the vast majority of children’s toothpastes. This makes it safe for kids if they accidentally swallow some.
  • For Sensitive Teeth: If you have sensitive teeth, there are several different formulas available, designed to reduce sensitivity.
  • For Stained Teeth: If you drink coffee, tea, and other staining products on a regular basis, you may want to consider whitening toothpaste.
  • For Adults Concerned about Fluoride: If you have concerns about the use of fluoride, there are plenty of fluoride-free toothpaste options available so you can limit your exposure.
  • For Cavity Protection: Certain toothpastes are specially formulated to protect against cavities. If you are concerned about cavities or you get them frequently, even with regular brushing, you may want to consider one that offers added protection.

Schedule an Appointment

If you are still not sure what toothpaste you should buy for yourself or your family, contact our office to schedule an appointment. We can examine your teeth and recommend products that are right for you.

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