The History of Toothpaste

Blog | Dental Advice | Dental Care | Dental Health | Gums

Our ancestors determined that oral cleaning meant better oral and dental health dating back to 3500-3000 BC, when the Babylonians and Egyptians fashioned early forms of toothbrushes by fraying the ends of twigs. And long before the predecessor of the toothbrush was engineered, as far back as 5000 BC in ancient Greece, people were using tooth powders to practice oral hygiene. People have been thinking of dental care long before dental clinics were established.

Ancient History of Toothpastes

Recipes found for the earliest toothpastes were composed mainly of ground ox hooves, eggshells and pumice, with a little myrrh added for flavor. This was a very abrasive mixture. Fortunately tooth enamel is the hardest substance in the human body, far harder than bone, and harder even than steel.

The predecessor of the toothbrush, usually a twig with the end frayed, added to the improvement in oral hygiene around 3500 B.C. Again it was the Egyptians who developed this innovation. The Chinese also used sticks made from aromatic trees, which helped with bad breath.

Different cultures used other abrasives as toothpastes. The Greeks and Romans, preferred using crushed oyster shells and bone for their abrasives toothpaste mixtures. They also added ground charcoal and various types of bark to sweeten their breath. The Romans were reputed to have included urine in their toothpaste. And the Chinese incorporated mint and ginseng with a pinch of salt.

Advancements in the Middle Ages

Not much in the form of improvements developed throughout the Middle Ages. A dental checkup usually consisted of emergency dental care such as pulling rotted teeth, which was considered the earliest form of oral surgery.

After the Industrial Revolution

Then came the Industrial Revolution and people began making improvements in all aspects of life, including oral hygiene. Prior to the 1800s, toothpastes were powders to which people added water to make a paste. In 1824, the first innovation in toothpaste in centuries came when a dentist named Dr. Peabody added soap to tooth powder. In the 1850s, Dr. John Harris included clay in his formula, producing a stable toothpaste. This toothpaste became popular and was sold in jars. Mass production of toothpaste didn’t begin until 1873.

In 1892, Dr. Washington Sheffield introduced toothpaste in a tube. Artists at the time were using paint that was sold in tubes, and Dr Sheffield brought this innovation to the dental industry. The spread of disease by bacteria was a concept newly understood during this time. And Dr. Sheffield rightly thought individual tubes would decrease the risk of disseminating disease causing agents.

Modern History:

The development of the toothpaste that we are familiar with today started in 1914, when fluoride was added to toothpaste, increasing its efficacy in preventing cavities. Toothpaste in collapsible tubes was being mass produced. In industrialized nations, parents were teaching their children to practice good oral hygiene by brushing both morning and night.

World War II resulted in a shortage of lead and tin, which disrupted the production of metal toothpaste tubes. As an alternative to the metal tubes, plastic tubes were developed. At the same time, the soap ingredient that had been added to toothpaste was replaced by synthetic emulsifying agents that worked much more effectively.

In the 1950s and 60s, dental care became an important focus of healthcare for the first time. The concept of a routine dental checkup was only popularized in the 1960s, if you can believe it!

With the influence of Hollywood actors and actresses and their brilliant white smiles on TV and movie screens, a trend developed of people desiring whiter teeth. In response to popular demand, the first toothpaste containing whitening agents was introduced at this time.

Modern toothpaste is more pleasant to use than it was in centuries past. But toothpaste is only part of the care our teeth need. Routine cleaning every six months can be done at Midtown Dental Clinic Saskatoon. Our clinic offers a variety of oral hygiene solutions and whitening methods to compliment your homecare oral routine. The Saskatoon dentists at Midtown Dental Clinic are capable of guiding you through all of your dental needs, including emergency oral surgery for tooth extractions. Midtown Dental also has dentists who offer expertise in general pediatric oral health. Whatever your dental concerns, the team of Saskatoon dentists at Midtown are ready help.

Call our Saskatoon dental clinic at Midtown Plaza for an appointment today.

This article is intended to promote understanding of and knowledge about general oral health topics. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your dentist or other qualified healthcare provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or treatment.

Two Peas In a Pod: Why Brushing and Flossing Come Hand-in-Hand

Dental Advice | Dental Care | Dental Health | Gums
Two Peas In a Pod: Why Brushing and Flossing Come Hand-in-Hand

Brushing and Flossing, it’s a subject we deal with every time we go to the dentist. After a while, it begins to feel like white noise.

Sure, we all know that brushing is important, but flossing seems kind of redundant. Do we really need it? Why are both of them necessary?

In the next few paragraphs, we’ll try to break down the benefits of brushing and flossing and explain why you should be doing both. Read on to learn more.

The Weird World of Teeth

Dentistry can be potentially traced back to the ancient Egyptians, who were incredibly skilled as far as ancient doctors go. They were the first to understand that a broken bone could be set and would grow back together.

They also may have pioneered dentistry. Granted, that was a simpler time when a dental problem meant an untreated abscess or cavities from accidentally eating sand, and they couldn’t even cure that.

Let’s jump ahead a few thousand years to the mid-nineteenth century when the medical model now known as germ theory was becoming popular among the masses.

This brings us to today and the question of why flossing is important. Flossing and brushing combined help in the treatment of gingivitis, which is caused by bacteria. However, that’s not the only benefit.

It also helps to destroy other forms of plaque and bacteria, which could lead to more serious issues. In fact, your mouth can be thought of as the metaphorical canary in a coal mine.

Plaque in your mouth can potentially lead to a higher risk of heart disease, as well as mouth infections, which can spread to other areas of the body. Plus, paying close attention to your mouth can help you notice signs that might be a sign of another issue somewhere else in the body.

Brushing and Flossing

As great as toothbrushes are, they can’t do everything. Their shape is not particularly well-designed for cleaning in between teeth.

This helps to prevent bacteria from forming in the hard-to-reach areas of your mouth. It may seem like a hassle now, but in the long run, it can save a lot of money on dental procedures.

Plus, it helps to cure bad breath, and can even make your teeth appear whiter by cutting away particles you wouldn’t otherwise notice.

Oral Hygiene

It may seem like your dentist is beating a dead horse every time they talk to you about the benefits of brushing and flossing, but it is true. Brushing and flossing help cut down on plaque and bacteria, which can prevent a lot of problems later on.

Additionally, brushing and flossing can also help your mouth look better and smell better.

If you want to know more about dentistry and how to keep your mouth healthy, please visit our website. Maybe you have bleeding gums but aren’t sure why. We can help. Perhaps you want to know which foods you should avoid if you want to keep your teeth healthy.

Reasons Why Your Gums Bleed

Dental Advice | Dental Problems | Gums

Noticing your gums bleed when you floss or brush your teeth can be alarming. The big question is: what are the possible causes of your bleeding gums? There can be different reasons why your gums might start to bleed when you brush. Some reasons are temporary while some are of more concern. It is important to make an appointment with your dentist if you are worried about your oral health.


Here are some of the possible reasons for bleeding gums:



This is the first stage of gum disease. Plaque at the gumline and on your teeth that are not removed by flossing and brushing can infect your gums, leading to the symptoms of gingivitis. When this oral condition occurs, your gums can be tender, swollen, and sometimes, bleeding when you brush and floss. This early stage of the condition responds well to good brushing and flossing habits as well as regular trips to the dentist.



Blood-thinning medications have been listed by the Canadian and American Dental Associations as a common cause of bleeding gums. These medications decrease blood’s ability to clot, thus leading to easier bleeding. Let your dentist know about any medications you may be on.



Switching from a soft-bristled toothbrush to a firmer one might also result in bleeding gums. When this happens, you may try returning to a soft or medium-bristled toothbrush and ask your dentist about which toothbrush is best for you at your next dental visit.



Changing your flossing routine is also one possible reason why your gums are bleeding. For instance, if you have not flossed in a few days or if you start flossing more frequently to help remove plaque and food from between your teeth, then you might notice some bleeding. This temporary trauma would often clear up within a week once the overabundance or under abundance is corrected and healing resolves.



Some pregnant women might experience swollen and bleeding gums when brushing and flossing. This is called ‘pregnancy gingivitis’. Hormonal changes during one’s pregnancy might alter the body’s response to the bacteria causing gum disease. As per the American Pregnancy Association, symptoms would clear up after pregnancy. Regular dental checkups, brushing and flossing can help prevent gum problems from worsening.



Obviously, we are aware if we are hit in the mouth as anywhere else sudden impact can result in tissue trauma resulting in bleeding. However slow, sustained force is also capable of bringing blood prominently to the surface. This can be contributed to with force applications of an over-aggressive brush but more often force applications of the opposing teeth of clenching and grinding.


Remember, bleeding gums can be your sign of the presence of gingivitis. If left untreated, it can develop into the more serious stages of gum disease. Find out what is causing your bleeding gums by seeing a dentist. If you are suffering from this oral condition, setup an appointment with one of our dentists here at Midtown Dental today!