You use toothpaste every day, but do you ever wonder where it came from? The journey of toothpaste through time is an interesting one full of interesting and creative dental solutions for tooth decay. Toothpaste’s chemical makeup fluctuated and changed a lot, but it eventually made its way to the modern minty fresh formula that you use today.
The first toothpastes were likely created in ancient Egypt and, like ours, were used to fight tooth decay and freshen breath, only the ingredients were dramatically different. The Egyptians used crushed rock salt, dried iris flowers, and pepper. Researchers assert that this ancient Egyptian toothpaste was actually fairly efficient at removing waste.
Greeks and Romans used a solution made from oyster shells, horse waste, and animal hooves. Upon hearing about this solution, all of us at Wheelock & Bursick Dentistry were grateful for our modern forms of fluoride-filled toothpaste.
In the 7th century AD, a man named Ziryab created a tooth cleaning solution that was reported to be both “functional and pleasant to the taste.” He publicized his concoction throughout the muslim world and it became very popular. Ziryab’s creation was instrumental to bringing the modern toothpaste movement.
A dentist in 1824 added soap to toothpaste and, in 1873, Colgate launched the first commercially produced breath-improving paste and sold it in a jar. From there, toothpaste scrubbed away its last problems when fluoride was added and soap was replaced with other chemicals like sodium lauryl sulfate.
There you have it. Next time when you are spreading your toothpaste across your brush, you can look at the minty paste and understand that, like you, it had a past too.