Nope…we’re not going to talk about that odd kid that everyone knew in Kindergarten who ate their paste! But, we ARE going to explore the fascinating world of paste — TOOTHPASTE, that is.
Even from the earliest times, the appearance of someone’s teeth figured into how attractive an individual was perceived to be. Which led to an interesting array of concoctions used to clean and whiten ancient teeth:
- In ancient Greece, pumice, talc, alabaster, coral powder or iron rust were employed as an early type of toothpaste.
- By 201 AD, the advanced Roman Empire boasted genuine dental experts, who employed gold crowns and fixed bridgework into their dentistry, and their toothpaste consisted of ground eggshell and honey to clean the teeth and freshen breath.
- Some records date back to the time of Buddha, who was said to use a “tooth stick” handed to him from the God Sakka to incorporate into his daily personal hygiene routine.
- The world’s oldest-recorded formula for toothpaste, dating back to somewhere around 373 AD was uncovered on a dusty piece of papyrus in a Viennese museum basement:
- An Egyptian scribe, in faded black ink made of soot and gum arabic mixed with water, carefully describes a “powder for white and perfect teeth.” It even includes instructions for use — “When mixed with saliva in the mouth, it forms a ‘clean tooth paste’. ” This magical potion:
- One drachma of rock salt — today, that equals 1/100th of an ounce
- Two drachmas of mint
- One drachma of dried iris flower
- 20 grains of pepper
- All crushed and mixed together
- From around 23 – 79 AD, toothpaste was made from ashes leftover from burnt mice heads, rabbits heads, wolves heads and ox heels with some goats feet thrown in to benefit the gums.
- The 18th Century saw the first formal introduction of toothpaste in 1780 with a special formula which contained burnt bread.
- As we become more sophisticated in the 1800s, the abrasives used for toothpaste included charcoal — gives that Saturday barbecue a whole new perspective! — and strawberries to fight tartar.
- The 1855 Farmers Almanac even included a recipe for tooth powder:
- 1 oz. myrrh (yep, the same stuff brought by the Three Wise Men!)
- 2 spoonfuls of your best honey
- A pinch of green sage
- Mix together and use every night on wet teeth.
- The first commercially prepared toothpaste that we would recognize today came from Colgate, who offered their tooth powder to consumers in 1873.
- Even though they remain with us today, their road to success was not without a few bumps! When marketing themselves in Spanish-speaking countries, their name Colgate translated into the command “go hang yourself!”
- However, they have managed to overcome this setback and today, Colgate claims nearly 35% of the US toothpaste market.
- And, this isn’t chump change…Total consumer spending on toothpaste annually adds up to 1.8 BILLION DOLLARS!
- From Buddha to the Royal Windsors of England, toothpaste continues to reach the loftiest smiles…Prince Charles’ personal valet has the heady responsibility of squeezing the royal toothpaste on the prince’s toothbrush daily!
While you may not have a personal valet for that duty in your household, every time you visit The Smile Center, we do everything in our power to make YOU feel like royalty!