Why Is Mint Used in Toothpaste?

By Laurie Fanelli in Natural Products

Mint and brushing your teeth go hand in hand. That minty-fresh feeling alone is enough to make you smile, but have you ever wondered how it came to be so popular? Why is mint used in toothpaste in the first place?

People have turned to mint for centuries, thanks in part to the way that menthol, a key molecule of mint, gives your mouth a distinctly cool, clean sensation. There are many varieties of mint toothpaste on the market, though, as well as plenty of alternative toothpaste flavors. So, are all mints created equal? What benefits does mint provide? Here's everything you need to know about the long-lasting partnership of mint and oral care products.

What Is Mint?

Encyclopedia Britannica explains that the genus Mentha, or mint, comprises 25 species of herbs from the mint family, native to Eurasia, North America, Southern Africa, and Australia. Mint has aromatic leaves and square stems. If you've ever had mint in your garden, you know that it's easy to grow and that it spreads quickly. As a perennial herb, mint typically grows back every year with very little nurturing. Spearmint and peppermint are among the most popular varieties of mint used in recipes, products, and fragrances.

Mint Toothpaste: A Brief History

According to Reader's Digest, mint has been used to flavor toothpaste for centuries. It's believed that Egyptians were the first to make tooth-cleaning pastes at around 500 BC, though Greeks and Romans may have also used some form of toothpaste during this time. However, ancient China took the lead on flavoring their pastes, experimenting with a variety of ingredients including ginseng, salt, and mint over time.

Why Is Mint Used in Toothpaste - Woman brushing teeth.

Why Is Mint Toothpaste Popular?

In the late 1800s, Colgate & Co. introduced toothpaste in jars, soon followed by tubes resembling modern-day models. Spearmint and peppermint oil became common flavoring ingredients during this time. The advent of advertising drove home the idea that your mouth isn't clean unless it has that minty fresh feeling.

Forbes explains that today, "forty-five percent of American mint oil is used to flavor toothpaste, mouthwash, and other oral hygiene products." An additional 45 percent of US mint oil is used for another product commonly associated with a fresh, cool mouth—chewing gum. Besides its fresh mouthfeel, mint is effective at covering up the less pleasant flavors of other toothpaste ingredients, such as fluoride and tartar-control agents.

While mint is the most popular dominant flavor of toothpaste in North America, other options are favored around the world. Forbes explains that Indian consumers enjoy spicy notes and clove in their oral care products, while Chinese consumers like tea and floral flavors.

Originating in the US, Tom's of Maine knows a thing or two about minty-fresh toothpaste. Tom's of Maine Clean Mint Luminous White Toothpaste, for example, includes peppermint leaves and other natural flavors, as well as clinically proven natural whitening technology to remove surface stains.

Why is mint used in toothpaste - Tom's of Maine offers clean mint toothpaste.

What Are the Uses of Mint?

The National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health explains that peppermint has been used for health benefits for several thousand years. Today, there are many uses for mint, including:

  • Soothing digestive issues such as irritable bowel syndrome
  • Aromatherapy
  • Relieving nausea
  • Alleviating tension headaches
  • Helping to clear congestion
  • Calming muscle aches, joint pain, and itching

If you're considering exploring mint as a natural remedy for any of these issues, be sure to consult your doctor to discuss whether this is a good path for you and for information on best practices.

So, why is mint used in toothpaste? Some things are classics for a reason, and mint toothpaste is as American as apple pie. Of course, always remember to brush your teeth after eating sugary desserts!

If you're inspired to grow your own mint, check out this article on how to start an indoor garden.

Image Sources: Wikimedia Commons | Pexels | Tom's of Maine

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Why It's Good

Mint has been a popular tool to keep teeth feeling fresh and clean for centuries. It's easy to grow, and the menthol found in mint provides a cool, pleasing sensation that will make you smile.