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In the world of modern dental care, we know that cleaning our teeth with a fluoride toothpaste twice a day is important in maintaining excellent oral health. Some of the people living in ancient and medieval times also believed dental care was important, however, their toothpastes were very different from the kind we use today. Check out some of the strange toothpastes that have been used throughout history.

Ancient Toothpastes

  • The Egyptians created some of the first toothpastes around 5,000 B.C. These powders were made from crushed rock salt, dried iris flowers, pepper, and mint. Often they added ox-hoof ashes and burnt eggshells to the mix.
  • The Romans used an abrasive toothpaste made from crushed bone and oyster shells as well as powdered charcoal and bark. However, a key ingredient to their toothpaste was urine, which contained cleansing ammonia compounds.
  • The Chinese also utilized toothpastes to promote good dental care. They often flavored their toothpastes using ginseng, herbal mints, and salt.

Old Toothpastes

  • In the late 1700’s, toothpaste was commonly a powder made from burnt toast.
  • In 1824, a dentist named Dr. Peabody added soap to toothpaste in order to enhance its cleaning properties.
  • In the 1850’s, chalk was added to toothpaste as an abrasive material. Toothpaste would also be available as a cream for the first time during this era.

Modern Toothpastes

  • In 1873, Colgate would be the first company to commercially produce a nice-smelling toothpaste in a jar.
  • In 1892, Washington Sheffield put toothpaste in a collapsible tube similar to the ones we use today.
  • In 1914, research discovered the benefits of fluoride in cavity-prevention. Companies started to add this mineral to toothpaste.