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The History of Toothpaste

Walk into any grocery store or pharmacy and you’ll no doubt pass shelves loaded with endless varieties of toothpaste. Some target consumers with sensitive teeth, some brag about their extreme whitening powers, and others announce exciting flavors like bubblegum, lime spearmint, and even chocolate. It’s safe to say toothpaste is something we all take for granted, but how much do we actually know about the stuff that keeps our smile shiny and our breath minty fresh? Here are six facts we bet you didn’t know about tooth paste.

The Ancient Egyptians Wanted Pearly Whites

Believe it or not, the oldest known recipe for toothpaste was created by the Egyptians as early as 5000BC. The formula called for rock salt, mint, peppercorns, and dried iris flowers – a far cry from the smooth white paste we are so familiar with. This particular concoction was known to create bleeding gums, but compared to the alternative of no oral hygiene at all, it was actually fairly effective.

The Ancients Favored Fresh Breath

The Romans, and the Chinese were also known to brush their teeth with abrasives, and they were the first to add flavoring to the formula. The Romans tended to use powdered charcoal and bark, while the Chinese smartly sided with Ginseng and herbal mints.

The Brits Brushed, Too

“Dentifrice” was another word for tooth powder that was first marketed by the British during the 18th century. This stuff consisted of a terrifying array of abrasives such as brick dust and crushed china plates, as well as a touch of burnt breadcrumbs. One has to wonder if dentifrice did more harm than good.

Paste is Produced

In the mid-1800s, glycerin was added to the current brushing recipe to make it an actual paste. Then in 1873, Colgate paved the way for mass-produced paste by creating the first commercially produced, fresh-smelling toothpaste. It was sold in jars.

In the mid-1800s, glycerin was added to the current brushing recipe to make it an actual paste. Then in 1873, Colgate paved the way for mass-produced paste by creating the first commercially produced, fresh-smelling toothpaste. It was sold in jars.

Tube Be, Or Not Tube Be

Toothpaste is first placed in a collapsible tube by Dr. Washington Sheffield. Now married couples can argue for centuries to come about whether to squeeze from the middle or the end.

Toothpaste That’s Out Of This World

In 1987 edible toothpaste is invented. NASA scientists created this version so astronauts could brush their teeth in zero gravity without having to spit. Since then, the edible variety has been marketed to youngsters just learning to brush.

Toothpaste in its various forms has been with the human race for millennia, and it has been used from ancient Egypt to outer space. Next time you brush your teeth before bed, think about how you’re brushing with a bit of human history.