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A short history of... Toothpaste

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For an everyday item which many of us seldom give thought to, the humble tube of toothpaste has a surprisingly extensive history. Over the years, all manner of ingredients have been used in a bid to keep gum disease at bay, including and, more recently, bicarbonate of soda. A far cry from today's fluoride toothpaste, let's take a closer look at the ways in which some of our ancestors made attempts to clean their teeth.

A short history

The first toothpaste was reportedly created by the Egyptians. Comprised of crushed rock salt, mint, iris flower and pepper, when this extraordinary concoction was mixed with saliva it formed a paste, which according to one Austrian dentist was a "big improvement" on some toothpastes created in the late 1800s.


So which ingredients were used to produce toothpaste in the 19th Century? Victorians preferred to experiment with chalk, brick and salt to create tooth powders to help lessen the impact of gum disease. By 1900, baking soda was a common ingredient used in toothpastes – and even today it can be found in many teeth whitening dental products.

So what's the future of toothpaste?

Earlier this year, Crest launched a daily two-step system method for teeth brushing, which involves using a stannous fluoride toothpaste followed by a gel containing hydrogen peroxide. Going several steps further, Japanese designer Kosho Ueshima invented an electric toothbrush – which enables you to clean your teeth without toothpaste. Could this be just another fad? The toothbrush will be available in Europe later this year, so we'll have to wait and see.

A few more facts…

  • We know that the most common toothpaste flavour is mint, but did you know that there are some other truly weird and wonderful flavours out there, ranging from apricot and lavender, to cinnamon, vanilla and pine
  • A home encyclopaedia published in 1866 advised using crushed charcoal, instead of commercially produced tooth powders
  • Foamless, ingestible toothpaste was created in the 1960s for NASA's space crew

For more information about how best to care for your teeth or to book a dentist appointment, visit your local Oasis Dental Care practice.