What are some historical facts about toothpaste?


Quick Answer

Some historical facts about toothpaste are that toothpaste dates back to 5000 B.C and that modern toothpaste recipes developed in the 1800s. The 20th century sees toothpaste develop into specialized formulas to treat specific conditions and diseases.

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Full Answer

Historians believe that Egyptians used the first toothpaste, even before inventing toothbrushes. Early toothpaste included a combination of ox hooves, ashes, pumice and egg shells. Other societies such as the Romans and Greeks included crushed bones and oyster shells in toothpaste recipes, while the Chinese preferred ginseng and salt. Some early recipes for toothpaste included burnt bread.

Early, modern toothpaste recipes included chalk and soap. Many early-modern recipes came in powder form, rather than in a paste. Colgate first began manufacturing toothpaste in jars in 1873. The company introduced toothpaste sold in tubes in the 1890s with great commercial success.

Other sources credit Dr. Washington Sheffield with the development of toothpaste's collapsible tube. Sodium lauryn sulfate is a chemical compound that manufacturers use to create toothpaste with a smooth, paste consistency. Manufacturers did not remove soap from toothpaste until around 1945.

Toothpaste manufacturers in the early 1900s added fluoride to toothpaste in order to fight tooth decay. Beginning in 1975, manufacturers offer herbal toothpastes that purposefully omitted fluoride. Later developments in the century included toothpaste recipes for tooth sensitivities.

Other recipes fight bad breath or work to whiten tooth color. Modern recipes also include sweeteners and artificial coloring to improve taste and visual appeal. Developments also include an edible toothpaste. Although popular for young children, NASA developed the edible toothpaste for its astronauts to use while in space.

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