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The History of Toothpaste

Dr. Hellwig Feb 25, 2017

Toothpaste on a toothbrushRestorative dentistry can effectively treat dental damage for improved oral health and restored appearance. However, preventing dental damage to begin with is the preferred course of action. One of the best ways to prevent dental damage is brushing the teeth with a fluoride-based toothpaste at least twice a day. Modern toothpastes boost the cleaning power of the toothbrush, while also offering other benefits, like reducing tooth sensitivity or whitening the teeth, but toothpastes weren't always so advanced. Read this brief history of toothpaste from San Diego, CA dentist Peter Hellwig.

Ancient Toothpaste

The use of toothpaste can be traced as far back as 5000 BC to the Ancient Egyptians. This early form of toothpaste was actually a powder made of myrhh, crushed eggshells, ash, and pumice.

The Ancient Greeks and Romans also used rudimentary toothpaste. This toothpaste was also a powder, but was highly abrasive because it was made of crushed bones and oyster shells.

The Ancient Chinese probably had one of the more palatable early toothpastes. It was made of salt, ginseng, and herbal mints.

The First Toothpastes

Believe it or not, toothpaste as we know it was not developed until the 1800s. Prior to this time, toothpaste remained in a powder form. Rather than using crushed bones or ash, tooth powders would evolve to include chalk and soap. It wasn't until 1873 that Colgate began mass producing jarred toothpaste.

Toothpaste was available in tubes in 1896, and fluoride was added in 1914. Soap was a main ingredient in toothpaste until 1945, when it was replaced with sodium lauryl sulphate.

Modern Toothpastes

Toothpaste has advanced beyond the days of crushed bones and soap to include many varieties designed for specific dental issues. Today, toothpaste is available to reduce tooth sensitivity, help restore minerals in the enamel, whiten the teeth, and help control tartar and bad breath. Not only are modern toothpastes more effective than earlier pastes and powders, they taste better thanks to special sweeteners and flavoring.

Toothpastes Can Boost Your Oral Hygiene Routine

Toothpaste is an important part of our daily oral hygiene routines, boosting the effectiveness of brushing. Toothpastes increase the toothbrush's ability to remove plaque, tartar, food debris, and bacteria from the teeth, helping to reduce the risk of gum disease and tooth decay. Specially formulated toothpastes can further benefit your oral hygiene routine by:

  • Removing more plaque, bacteria, tartar, and food remnants than dry brushing
  • Controlling plaque and tartar build up
  • Reducing the risk of gum disease, tooth decay, and tooth loss
  • Remineralizing the enamel to help strengthen the outer layer of the teeth
  • Whiten minor dental discoloration
  • Freshen the breath

Discover Your Treatment Options

Brushing twice a day with a fluoride-based toothpaste and flossing can greatly reduce the risk of dental damage and gum disease, but even with proper care, patients still need dental treatment. If you suspect you have gum disease or tooth decay, or would like to schedule a routine dental exam, we encourage you to contact Dr. Hellwig.

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