Life Before Toothpaste

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toothpasteWhat was life like before toothpaste?  You might want to ask the dinosaurs.  Humans have been using something like toothpaste for maybe 7000 years!

The earliest toothpaste-like stuff archeologists have found is from ancient Egypt.  The Egyptians used a mixture of ox hoof, myrrh, egg shells and pumice that was burned to ashes.  They mixed these ashes with water. Then they rubbed this mess across their teeth with their fingers.

By the time toothpaste came to ancient Rome, they had an early version of the toothbrush.  It was more a soft stick with a chewed end dipped in the “toothpaste.”  They would then brush the paste on their teeth.  Very rich people had sticks tipped with boar bristles.

The Romans didn’t enjoy the taste of the Egyptian formula.  It’s easy to see why.  What’s hard to understand is why they thought adding charcoal and bark would make it taste better.  The ancient Chinese used ginseng and mint.  That must have been yummier.

For the next thousand years, toothpaste changed very little.  George Washington probably used toothpaste that was like Julius Caeser’s.  In the 1800’s, toothpaste was mass-produced and sold in jars.

The familiar plastic squeeze tube wasn’t created until World War II which also saw everyone brushing.  Before then, only rich people got the (questionable) benefit of toothpaste.  The United States military gave toothbrushes and toothpaste to their men and women who were serving.  They knew healthy teeth were important for healthy bodies.  After the war, the veterans took the habit home and taught it to their children.  Now everybody brushes their teeth.

Soon after, fluoride was added to toothpaste.  This was a big boost for dental health in children and adults.  If you want to find the best toothpaste for you, be sure to ask your dentist.


  1. […] Adding to his dental woes were little stones that would show up in his bread. Why where there stones in his bread? Back then, people used massive wheels of stone to grind wheat into flower. The stones were hard, but daily grinding was tough on them, and bits of the stones would come off and end up in the flour. These stones were sometimes missed by the bakers and would end up in the Pharaoh’s bread. A big piece might chip a tooth, but even small bits would wear at the enamel. And that doesn’t even get into the horrors that were ancient Egyptian toothpaste! […]

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