Toothpastes over time: The weirdest things people have used to clean their teeth

Today's toothpaste has come a long way since Egyptian times.

Toothpaste is a staple of bathroom cabinets all over the world. It's an important part of any oral care routine and helps to keep teeth strong and healthy and breath minty fresh!

It didn't always taste as good as the various mint flavours you find on supermarket shelves today though. Thousands of years ago, people were scrubbing their teeth with rudimentary pastes made out of some pretty strange things. 

Here's a look at some of the more bizarre things people have used as toothpaste over time

Egyptians whipped up a dental cream by mixing powdered egg shells, pumice, ox hooves and water.

1. 5000BC – powdered egg shells, ox hooves and pumice

No one knows exactly what was first used to clean teeth, but evidence shows that the Egyptians whipped up a dental cream by mixing powdered egg shells, pumice, ox hooves and water, according to Colgate.

A later version of toothpaste used by the Egyptians was a combination of salt, pepper, mint and dried iris flowers. Both 'toothpastes' would have been used to scrape plaque and debris off teeth and keep them at a minimal level of cleanliness. 

2. 500BC – crushed bones and oyster shells

In Greece and Rome, people used to use abrasives made from crushed bone and shells to clean their teeth. The Romans added some flavouring in the form of powdered charcoal and bark, to improve the taste and possibly freshen their breath. Delicious. 

In ancient Egypt, hooves and egg shells were used as toothpaste. In ancient Egypt, hooves and egg shells were used as toothpaste.

3. 1780 – burnt bread

Yes, you read that right. People used to use charcoaled bread to scrub away at their teeth. 

4. 1800s – soap and chalk

Toothpaste innovation stalled for several centuries and no one came up with any clever new ideas until 1824, when a dentist added soap to the mix. Around the 1850s, chalk was thrown in. 

Toothpastes these days taste a lot better than they used to. Toothpastes these days taste a lot better than they used to.

5. 1873 – Colgate launches the first mass-produced toothpaste

Colgate originally sold toothpaste in a jar, with the collapsible tube coming along in 1892. Then in 1914 fluoride was discovered to reduce cavities and was introduced to toothpastes. The rest, as they say, is history. 

Today we're grateful to have pleasant-tasting toothpastes that are fortified with fluoride and don't make our gums bleed! And when toothpaste just isn't enough, you can get a professional cleaning with a dental hygienist. For this and all your other dental care needs, book an appointment with us today.