The History Behind Toothpaste

A twice-daily routine of tooth brushing is, we hope, ingrained in most of us, but have you ever thought about the origins of toothpaste? In fact, toothpaste has been used for centuries, and its origins can be traced right back to the ancient Egyptians, Greeks and Romans.

The Ancient Egyptians are renowned for inventing many different things, including a very basic toothpaste. Their toothpaste was thought to use a mixture of ashes, pumice, eggshells, oxen hooves and myrrh. The Ancient Greeks concocted an equally as abrasive mixture made from crushed bones and oyster shells. Early Chinese civilisations made their toothpaste from ginseng, salt and herbal mint, which must have tasted considerably better. Although all early toothpaste sounds disgusting, it’s worth remembering that at the time it was a luxury item.

Mass production of modern toothpaste didn’t begin until Colgate was founded towards the end of the 19th century. Even Colgate initially produced toothpaste made from highly abrasive elements, and it wasn’t until 1914 that the manufacturer began to incorporate fluoride into its formula. Right up until 1945, toothpaste commonly contained soap! Thankfully, modern toothpaste tastes pretty good, and its formulation is designed to protect your tooth enamel, to improve gum health, and some can even whiten teeth slightly.