The History of Toothpaste

September 4, 2018

dental evolutionIt’s hard to understand how people maintained their oral health before toothpaste. Before we had access to this minty goodness, ancient civilizations relied on some fairly obscure ingredients to clean their mouths.

It Began with the Egyptians

Although historians believe Egyptians used oral cleaning concoctions as early as 5,000 B.C., the earliest known recipe dates back to the year 4 A.D. During this time, Egyptians blended crushed rock salt, mint, pepper, and iris flowers to keep their teeth healthy. Although it may have seemed like a good idea at the time, this mixture most likely caused irritation and bleeding! Luckily, a century ago, we came up with an effective solution—but not before trying some interesting alternatives. Let’s take a look!

The Evolution of Toothpaste

grinding herbsEgyptians weren’t the only ones to produce their own paste; Greeks and Romans used blending methods, adding crushed bones and oyster shells as scrubbing agents. The Chinese preferred a gentler route, using ginseng, salt, and herbal mints. But how did we land our modern-day blend of fluoride, detergents, and flavorings? It begins in the 1700’s:

1780: People begin brushing their teeth with burnt bread crumbs!

1824: American dentist, Dr. Peabody, ditches carbs and tries a soap powder blend. Later, soap was replaced by sodium lauryl sulfate to create a paste consistency.

1850’s: Dr. John Harris adds chalk to toothpaste for cleaning purposes.

1873: Colgate launches the first pleasant smelling paste in glass jars.

1892: Dr. Washington Sheffield invests the collapsible tube, a prevalent packaging method still popular today.

1914: Once fluoride benefits are discovered, it’s added to toothpaste.

1987: NASA invents edible toothpaste for astronauts, giving them the ability to swallow their paste while in space! This invention comes in handy for young children today.

1989: Rembrandt comes out with the first claim to carry paste that whitens your smile.

Progress Over the Years

We have come a long way since the beginning; now we have brands boasting effective solutions for fighting plaque, tooth decay, and brightening your smile. At Lowry, we have the same goal in mind, which is to keep your teeth healthy and clean. However, our methods exclude those crazy primitive solutions!

Posted In: Dental Hygiene