It’s History! 10 Facts You Didn’t Know About Your Tooth Paste

Toothpaste, more properly known as a gel dentifrice, has under taken many changes over the last several thousand years. The purpose, however, has remained the same, that of maintaining the health and appearance of teeth. Now brace yourselves, it is time to learn a few surprising facts you never knew before about toothpaste.


Mostly Water

Modern toothpastes have a water content anywhere from 20 to 42 percent. The water content largerly depends on the brand and purpose at times. But either way, that is quite some leeway in the ingredients department.


First Toothpaste

The first toothpastes were developed by the ancient Greeks and Egyptians over two thousand years ago. The main ingredients in the Greek recipe were crushed oyster shells and powdered animal bones. In the Egyptian recipe there was a mixture of soot and gum. In more recent history the recipe for toothpaste consisted of soap and salt for a semi effective concoction.


No Toothbrushes

The professionals from Maxwell Millers Cosmetic Dentistry say that the users of toothpaste in ancient times did not use toothbrushes; one would apply the toothpaste to the teeth with a finger or a rag.


Medicinal Twigs

In the Middle East, a twig from the neem tree was used as a toothbrush. Researchers have discovered there are many beneficial elements in the bark of these twigs.


Burnt Toast

A popular toothpaste recipe in use in Britain and in the American colonies in the early 1700s used bits of burnt bread. Once the toast was burnt and became a form of charcoal, it became an active ingredient in whitening teeth. This is a still a great teeth whitening technique these days. But you don’t need to burn toast. You can buy charcoal for this purpose at any health food store near you.


British Tooth Powders

In the 19th century, homemade tooth powders containing salt, chalk or bits of brick were used instead of toothpaste. Some of the patented tooth powders sold commercially at that time were in fact dangerous to one’s health if used too often.


Paste Versus Powder

Pre-mixed toothpaste was available commercially as an alternative to tooth powders in the late 1800s, but did not take off in popularity until after the end of World War One.


Collapsible Tube

The familiar toothpaste tube that’s squeezed from one end was developed as a result of a visit to France in the 1880s by the son of an American toothpaste manufacturer. While visiting the Parisian art scene, he was inspired by the sight of paint kept in small tubes.



Leonard Lawrence Marraffino invented striped toothpaste in 1955 by confining pastes of two different colors separately within a tube and using small internal openings to mix the two when the tube was squeezed.


Unexpected Flavors

In addition to the standard modern flavors of mint and cinnamon, toothpastes have been sold with the flavor of anise, bubblegum, ginger, pine, vanilla, fennel, tea, peanut butter, various fruits and whiskey.


With over three dozen brands of toothpaste in the world today and each with more than a few varieties and flavors, a person will be easily be able to find the toothpaste that best suits their personal needs and taste.

Written by brionna

Brionna Kennedy is native to the Pacific Northwest, growing up in Washington, then moving down to Oregon for college. She enjoys writing on fashion and business, but any subject will do, she loves to learn about new topics. When she isn't writing, she lives for the outdoors. Oregon has been the perfect setting to indulge her love of kayaking, rock climbing, and hiking.