A long history of toothbrushing

Every day we squeeze some toothpaste onto a toothbrush and brush our teeth but have you ever wondered when we first started brushing our teeth? At what point in human history did we realize the importance of keeping our teeth healthy? Let’s look at the origins of toothpaste.

Egypt is said to have begun using toothpaste to clean teeth in approximately 5000BC, long before the humble toothbrush was invented. Both the ancient civilisations of Greece and Rome are known to have used toothpaste, as well as the early peoples of India and China in approximately 500BC. It did not, however, resemble toothpaste we see today though.

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Old-fashioned toothpaste used to combat some of the same problems we have now, keeping teeth and gums clean, whitening teeth and a desire for fresh breath. Materials used in toothpaste were very different and varied. Materials used include powdered ashes of ox nails and burnt eggshells, combined with a pumice stone. The Greeks and Romans would have preferred a more abrasive paste and tooth paste including bones and oyster shells. The Romans threw in a little extra more seasoning to help with bad breath along with charcoal powder and tree bark. China also used a variety of substances in toothpaste from time to time that have included ginseng, herbal sweets and salt.

Before the mid-19th century, ‘toothpaste’ was usually a powder. During the 1850s, a new toothpaste was created called Crème Dentifrice in 1873 and by 1890 Colgate was manufacturing the first toothpaste in a jar.

Modern developments in toothpaste began on the 19th century. The first paste contained soaps and in the 1850s, chalk was also added. In the 1860s a home-made toothpaste described the use of ground charcoal.

Toothpaste still contained soap until well after the Second World War. After that, the soap was replaced by other ingredients to make past into a smooth consistency – like sodium lauryl sulphate, an ingredient found in toothpaste today. As well as brushing teeth, dentures must be brushed but not with toothpaste, only water or a special cleansing solution. For Southend on Sea Dentures care, visit a site like Hockley Dental Lab, top providers of Southend on Sea Dentures.

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From the 1950s modern toothpastes were developed to help prevent or to treat a variety of certain diseases and conditions such as tooth sensitivity. Fluoride was added to toothpaste to help prevent damage in 1914. Toothpaste with very low abrasiveness also been developed to help prevent problems caused by brushing too hard. The progress made recently includes developing whitening toothpaste containing triclosan. Triclosan helps to provide extra protection against the effects of gum disease, calculus, bad breath, plaque and caries.

Toothpaste we buy and use today contains fluoride, colouring, flavouring, sweeteners and ingredients that create a fine paste capable of foaming and staying moist. Individual toothpaste may also contain special ingredients to help with certain conditions. Toothpaste in a tube is used worldwide and has become a very successful invention.

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