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Like all forms of medicinal and dental care, toothpaste came from very humble beginnings. In fact, if you were to encounter an archaic form of toothpaste, you wouldn’t recognize it as tooth cleansing concoction.

Historians credit the Egyptians with the earliest form of dental hygiene. Around 5000 BC, the Egyptians created an abrasive paste to clean their teeth. By 500 BC, Greece, Rome, China and India all adopted their own variations.

These pastes consisted of organic materials such as powdered ox hoof, ashes and burnt eggshells, and the more abrasive pastes added crushed bones and oyster shells. The Romans and Chinese also added flavored ingredients, such as ginseng, salt and herbal mints to combat both bad breath and the taste of the other ingredients.

These pastes, used in conjunction with “chewing sticks,” prevailed until the 1800s, when soap replaced some of the more unappealing ingredients and Colgate began selling paste in jars as a means of mass production. The World War era brought the arrival of fluoride—a historical scientific moment—and production companies switched to plastic tubes to reduce the wars’ tin shortages. The paste also became significantly less abrasive as companies experimented with foaming agents and sweeteners.

Today, toothpaste typically contains fluoride, coloring and flavoring agents, sodium lauryl sulphate and ingredients to make the paste soft and moist. Different brands of toothpaste provide a variety of flavors and purposes to appeal to all consumer types.

Nowadays, with so many toothpastes that do more than remove plaque, it can be difficult to determine which brand and type is best for you. Fortunately, Drs. Randall L. Farmer & Isabelle M. Farmer of Houston smiledocs are here to provide a professional opinion. Contact them at 713.784.6855 to learn the ins and outs of modern toothpaste.