You use toothpaste on a daily basis (or at least you should). But have you ever wondered how, when, and where toothpaste was invented? Read on to find out everything you need to know about the history of this daily essential.
It is believed that the first people to use something resembling a toothpaste to clean their teeth were Egyptians in 5000BC. This was before toothbrushes were even invented, which happened between 3500 to 30000 BC. It is also a known fact that Ancient Greeks and Romans used to use toothpaste, while people in India and China started using it around 500BC.
Similar to our current kinds of toothpaste, ancient kinds of toothpaste were also used to keep teeth and gums clean, freshen breath, and whiten the teeth. However, the ingredients used in toothpaste varied drastically from place to place and era to era.
The earliest ingredients to be used in toothpaste are known to be burnt eggshells, powder of ox’s hooves, and ashes, which were combined using a pumice stone. However, the Greeks and Romans were more abrasive with their toothpaste ingredients, using crushed bones and oyster shells to form a teeth-cleaning powder.
Romans enhanced this combination by adding some flavoring to help bad breath, along with powdered charcoal and bark. On the other hand, the Chinese used a variety of ingredients in their toothpaste over the decades, including herbal mints, salt, and ginseng.
The development of toothpaste as we know it today began in the early 1800s. Soap was added to the earlier version, while the inclusion of chalk began in the 1850s. In England, betel nuts were added to kinds of toothpaste in the 1800s. A home encyclopedia from the 1860s has also listed ground charcoal as an ingredient used in homemade toothpaste.
Prior to the 1850s, almost all toothpaste was in the form of powder. During this time, a toothpaste called Crème Dentifrice was developed and is the earliest known example of toothpaste in a paste form and was sold in jars.
In 1873, Colgate started the production of these kinds of toothpaste in jars. The tube in which toothpastes are now sold was introduced by Colgate in the 1890s.
With evolved ingredients, toothpastes now typically contain fluoride, flavoring, sweetener, coloring, preservatives, and some ingredients that help it form a smooth paste/foam and remain moist.