What is the history of toothpaste? Who actually invented it?

Of course, we all know why it was invented, so we won’t cover that part. Actually, tooth powder was the first and earliest form of toothpaste, and actually still exists today in powder form. The Egyptians were the first to make and use tooth powder. The powder was made from the ashes of ox hooves, myrrh (which is a gum resin), eggshells that were burnt and powdered, and pumice, which is volcanic rock.

So, how was the toothpowder improved? Because with those ingredients’ improvements were definitely needed. The Greeks and Romans were the first to add abrasives like crushed bones and oyster shells and in the 9th century, Iraqi invented the first type of toothpaste, although the ingredients are not known it is speculated to have been both “functional and pleasant to taste”. Along the way, there have been other various recipes to make toothpowders and toothpastes ranging from adding burnt bread, dragon’s blood, cinnamon and burned alum.

In 1880 Dr Washington Sheffield was the first to manufacture toothpaste into a collapsible tube. He got the idea from painters using paint from tubes and thought hey, that’s an idea! Did you know the tubes were originally made from lead? The things we didn’t know then. The first toothpaste tubes hit the market in April 1908. It wasn’t until the 19th century when people really started using toothpaste on a regular basis, but it really didn’t become so-called popular until world war one.

In the 1890s fluoride was added to toothpaste but the first clinically proven ADA approved fluoride toothpaste was in 1955. Fortunately, since 1955 toothpaste has evolved to be better for our teeth and overall health. Here is something to ponder, if a dentist makes their money off of unhealthy teeth, why do we trust a toothpaste that four out of five dentists recommend? That gets you thinking.

Now on to dental floss. The origin of dental floss can be traced back to prehistory when prehistoric humans would use horsehair and twigs to remove particles from in between their teeth. In 1815 Dr. Levi Spear Parmly invented a thin, waxen silk thread to help his patients clean between their teeth. The idea caught on, and in 1882 the Codman and Shurtleft Company began marketing an unwaxed silk dental floss, and this was followed in 1896 by the first dental floss from Johnson & Johnson where they took out a patent for dental floss in 1898 that was made from the same silk material used by doctors for silk stitches.

During the 1940s, nylon replaced silk as the material for dental floss. Its consistent texture and resistance to shredding were an improvement over the silk version. Today, a variety of dental flosses exist on the market, boasting many textures, materials, and even flavors

Remember to brush and floss!

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