When Was Toothpaste Invented? A Brief History of Brushing Teeth

By Laurie Fanelli in Healthy Feeling

Every two-minute session you spend brushing your teeth is a great time to think or reflect on your day. But have you ever considered the origins of the practice while you're brushing?

When did people start brushing their teeth? And when was toothpaste invented? From the first incarnations of teeth brushing to modern innovations, the history of brushing your teeth is a story that will make you smile.

When Was Toothpaste Invented?

Before toothpaste as we know it was invented, people used crushed bone, pumice, oyster shells, and other ingredients to make pastes and powders to clean their teeth, according to the Pennsylvania Dental Association. A more traditional—though typically powdered—toothpaste was invented in the 1800s. Then, in 1873, toothpaste was mass-produced for the first time.

The collapsible tube—which can be modified with handy-dandy homemade squeezers—was invented in 1892, and fluoride was added to toothpaste in 1914 to help with cavity prevention.

Woman holds toothbrush and toothpaste

The Origins of Tooth Brushing

Toothpaste as we know it today was invented in the 1800s, but what about the brush it goes on? The Library of Congress explains that crude versions of the toothbrush have been around much longer—since 3000 BC. Ancient civilizations are said to have used sticks with frayed ends to rub against their teeth. If you've watched present-day survival reality shows, you may have noticed contestants using a similar technique.

A bristle toothbrush was first invented in China in 1498. It was made from coarse animal hair attached to a bone or bamboo. Nylon bristles were introduced in 1938, and the hygiene regimen of World War II soldiers inspired Americans to practice good oral care.

In 1960, the electronic toothbrush was introduced in America.

Modern Oral Care Innovations

Nowadays, toothpaste comes in many different varieties. Some options feature yummy flavors to encourage kids to take care of their teeth, while others are focused on antiplaque and whitening and contain naturally derived ingredients.

For example, you might try a natural toothpaste that includes activated charcoal to help remove surface stains. If you're aiming to adopt greener habits, you'll be encouraged to learn that Tom's of Maine invented the first-of-its-kind fully recyclable toothpaste tube that can be put in the bin with your other recyclables.

Tom's of Maine Activated Charcoal Toothpaste

Brushing your teeth has been common practice for centuries, but modern products and advancements in dentistry make maintaining good oral hygiene easier—and greener—than ever. Be sure to consult with your dentist to discuss your individual oral hygiene needs.

Learn more about natural oral care products on the Naturally Good Products board by @tomsofmaine on Pinterest!

Image Sources: Pxhere | Pexels | Tom's of Maine

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Why It's Good

Oral hygiene has been a priority for centuries and is still seeing new innovations today. With so much history behind the practice of brushing our teeth, you can look at your smile with even more gratitude.