It is so much a part of our daily lives and grooming routines in this country that it may seem odd that your tube of toothpaste wasn’t always readily available for most people. Where tooth powders and other cleaning agents existed for centuries, toothpaste, as we know it, wasn’t invented until the 1890’s. Egyptians are credited for first using a paste to clean their teeth with Romans, Greeks and Romans following suit. Modern toothpastes, developed during the early 1800’s included ingredients like soap and chalk. Some even included charcoal and betel nuts.
The first paste that was mass produced and developed by Colgate, came in jars under the name of “Creme Dentifrice”. Tubes of toothpaste weren’t available until the late 1980’s. So what makes modern toothpaste different for its predecessors; aside from its innovative packaging? The main differences would be the ingredients used to make the paste. Up until around 1945, many toothpastes still contained soap. The most common ingredients found in today’s pastes include:
- Mild abrasives – Meant to remove debris and stains from the surfaces of teeth, abrasives such as calcium carbonate, sodium bicarbonate, silica gels and phosphate salts are often used.
- Fluoride – Recognized as one of the key elements meant to prevent tooth decay, fluoride is detrimental to oral bacteria by incorporating into the structure of the tooth and making it resistant to that bacteria.
- Binders and thickeners – The use of xanthum gum, carrageenan and synthetic cellulose help to give toothpaste the texture and form that we have come to expect; helping it to stick to both our toothbrush and our teeth as we brush.
- Flavoring agents – Mint, artificial sweeteners and a variety of other flavors are used to make brushing your teeth more enjoyable while freshening your breath.
As one of society’s staples of oral hygiene, toothpaste has cleaned, protected and saved countless teeth over the centuries. As your dentist in Sterling, we of course recommend that you brush and floss at least twice a day. And don’t forget to schedule your bi-annual routine dental checkup by calling our dental office in Sterling, VA.