Toothpaste: A Historical Timeline
Did you know the very first toothpastes probably originated around 5000 BC in China Egypt, and India?
Egyptians combined rock salt, dried iris flowers, pepper, and mint, as well as some rather unsavory ingredients like ox-hoof ashes and burnt eggshells.
By the late 1700s, people brushed their teeth with a powder made from — burnt toast! In 1824, a dentist added soap to the powders. A couple decades later, manufacturers were adding chalk to what was now available as a cream, more closely resembling today’s toothpastes.
In 1873 Colgate had begun to manufacture toothpaste in a jar. Before the turn of the century, Colgate had begun to sell toothpaste in the familiar tube. Dr. Washington Sheffield created a tube more similar to today’s packaging.
Fluoride first made its appearance in toothpaste in 1914. But, believe it or not, soap was still used as an emulsifying agent through World War II!
In the early 1940s, Procter & Gamble began research to find ingredients that would reduce tooth decay, a significant health problem of the time. By 1950, P & G had teamed up with Dr. Joseph Muhler at Indiana University to develop a new toothpaste with fluoride. Clinical studies showed an average 49% reduction in cavities in children 6 – 16 and similar results in adults who had tried the new toothpaste. Crest with Fluoristan was launched in test markets in 1955 and rolled out nationally by January, 1956.
During the 1970s, herbal toothpastes like Tom’s of Maine increased in popularity. Edible toothpastes were originally designed for astronauts who couldn’t swish and spit in space but were reformulated for young children who were prone to swallow.
In 1989, Rembrandt marketed the first whitening toothpaste and many other manufacturers came up with their own versions.
Today, the toothpaste aisle is filled with many variations. What’s your favorite?