The history of toothpaste development

After food, toothpastes are the second best thing that can happen to your mouth. The relief that comes with having the bacteria in your mouth after eating being destroyed by that one act called ‘brushing’ is priceless.

So picking up my toothpaste this morning, I wondered how toothpaste came to be. Who or what group of people invented toothpaste? Walking into the next room I asked my wife “When was toothpaste invented?” she stared blankly at me “I don’t know.” And so I decided to enlighten myself and here’s what I found;

Before the invention of toothpastes, tooth cleansing powders existed and around 5000BC, the Egyptians were believed to have started using something other than a powder to clean their teeth – a paste. The toothpaste made then was used to whiten the teeth as well as give off a fresh breath. It was passed down as it underwent different forms of fortification in order to keep bacteria from destroying the teeth and gum.

Looking at what bacteria would have done to our gums assuming this better form of cleaning the teeth and keeping the mouth fresh wasn’t invented, we should thank the Egyptians for thinking outside the box of powdered tooth cleanser. Now let’s look at how we got here today with tooth cleansers.



Early Toothpaste


Still in total awe of how toothpastes came about to be, then listen as you read to get your facts right. Before the advent of the paste you know about today, tooth powders existed. It happened that it has been in existence since 5000BC and invented by the Egyptians. This tooth powder was made of powdered and burnt eggshells, pumice, myrrh and powdered ashes of ox hooves. Later on as civilization creeper in, the Greeks and the Romans thought it wise to add crushed bones and oyster shells which would serve as abrasives in order to improve the powder recipe. Interesting innovation right? Yeah, I can still feel abrasives while using tooth powders and knowing they are there to aid me to clean my teeth faster makes me relax while brushing. No pressure whatsoever. Later on, Japan’s Edo advertised “toothpaste in a box” an invention he called Sosekiko. 9th century, in turn, brought forward a toothpaste which was said to be both functional and pleasant to the taste and which was popularized all through Islamic Spain by Ziryab the inventor. Whether early toothpastes where used with early toothbrushes such as neem-tree twigs or rags to rub in on the teeth or where combined with any other catalyst to aid cleansing was not made known. All knowledge point towards the fact that toothpastes came in to being as early as the 19th century.



Tooth powder


 Most early toothpaste powders were homemade using pulverized brick, chalk or salt as ingredients and later on, in 1866, a Home Encyclopedia suggested pulverized charcoal to be added to the recipe for tooth powders. They also brought to the notice of the public the fact that some powders, although patented, are still harmful to the tooth.  The year 2000 brought with it Arm and Hammer who marketed baking soda based tooth powder.





Modern toothpaste


Toothpastes aren’t just modern because of that tag “Modern” they are because a lot of evolution and recipe has been made to get the Modern toothpastes we have now.  Let’s look at this evolution that brought to us now what we have in collapsible tubes as toothpastes. After Kolynos, the first toothpaste containing disinfectants was developed by Willoughby D. Miller and Newell Sill Jenkins, several changes occurred resulting to an addition of fluoride which was meant to harden the tooth’s enamel to toothpastes for the first time in the 1890s. Through the years fluoride got replaced by hydroxylapatite. This biomimetic hydroxylapatite which was found in the first European toothpaste by BioRepair in 2006 was intended to create a new layer of synthetic enamel around the tooth. This will, in turn, protect the tooth from bacteria



Toothpaste tubes


An idea popped into Doctor Washington Sheffield’s head after his son saw paint being used by painters from tubes in Paris in the year 1880. Guess what this idea resulted in; Dr. Sheffield’s Creme Dentrifice- a collapsible tubed CT manufactured toothpaste. Now, in 1896 Colgate & Company Dental Cream imitated Sheffield and invented a collapsible toothpaste. This was the closest to the modern-day toothpaste and since then, toothpaste in collapsible tubes has taken over the town almost running tooth powders out of the market.





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