The History of Toothpaste

Toothpaste! It’s been around longer than you may think. Did you know, the Egyptians are thought to have started using a paste to clean their teeth around 5000 BC? That’s about two thousand years before toothbrushes started making appearances in 3500-3000 BC!

The development of toothpaste as we know it today didn’t really get going until the 1800s. Toothpaste was a powder prior to 1850 and was made with soap (yuck!) until after 1945. During the 1850s, a cream toothpaste in a jar called Crème Dentifrice was introduced to the toothpaste market. Soon after Colgate started mass producing toothpaste in jars and then in a tube in the 1890s.

During the mid- to late-1900s, soap was replaced in toothpaste by other ingredients, like sodium lauryl sulphate, to make the paste smoother. This was also when the toothpastes we are familiar with today started to be developed. Fluoride toothpastes were introduced in 1914 along with toothpastes to treat oral conditions like tooth sensitivity. The most recent advances in toothpaste involve whitening toothpastes and the addition of Triclosan. Triclosan provides protection against cavities, plaque, gum disease, and bad breath.

Today, your toothpaste contains fluoride, coloring, flavoring, sweetener, and ingredients that make it a smooth paste that foams and stays moist. Certain toothpaste brands sometimes have special ingredients, for example, Colgate Total contains triclosan. Always make sure to look for the ADA seal of approval when you shop for toothpaste. If you’re unsure which toothpaste is best for you, consult your dentist or oral hygienist.