Historians date the origins of toothpaste production back to the year 5000 B.C. Ancient Egyptians, according to historical records, produced the first toothpaste. The ancient paste helped Egyptians keep gums, teeth and mouths clean, abated bad breath and even provided protection against gum ailments.
Ancient toothpaste served the same purposes as modern toothpastes, such as cleaning teeth and preventing infection, but contained very different ingredients. Ancient Egyptians formulated toothpaste from substances including burned and crushed eggshells, ground hooves and spices. Although ancient Egyptians receive credit for producing toothpaste, other ancient civilizations in Greece and Rome quickly followed suit. Greeks and Romans, however, added thicker and coarser substances, such as bones, to thicken pastes. Romans improved pastes to control bad breath with the addition of bark and charcoal. In 500 B.C., toothpaste emerged in China and India. The Chinese revised the toothpaste formula to enhance flavor. They accomplished an improved taste by adding ginseng, other herbs and salt to base pastes. In Western nations, early versions of modern toothpaste emerged around 1800. Early pastes contained soap and chalk, and English varieties contained Betel nut and charcoal. In the 1900s, toothpaste manufacturers in the United States added more substances, including fluoride, to reduce tooth sensitivity and decay. Later, manufacturers added colors, flavors and sweeteners to enhance the appeal and texture of toothpastes.