7000 years ago, the Egyptians cleaned their teeth with a powder made from ground-up cow hooves and horns. They added crushed pumice, shells, ashes, and myrrh to it, and cleaned their teeth with their fingers or a cloth. The ancient Greeks added crushed shells to this recipe, while the Romans mixed in essential oils and herbs to freshen their breath. The Persians cleaned their teeth with honey, ground-up snail shells, and even pebbles.
The solid particles in toothpaste are called abrasives. They whiten teeth well, but mercilessly scratch the enamel. Ancient toothpaste contained a lot of abrasives. This suggests that people had pearly white smiles, but not for long.
The reason why Mona Lisa is smiling so enigmatically is because, during the Middle Ages, European cuisine had made significant progress, but dentistry had not. Legends abound about the cleanliness of Europeans. We cannot verify whether Louis took a bath only twice in his life, but we can form an opinion about dental hygiene based on etiquette rules. At court, people ate a lot of sweets. They did not realize they had dental problems until their teeth began to ache and fall out. They tried to “fill” the cavities with wax or pull the tooth out as soon as possible. It was considered indecent to laugh out loud, hence the rule that characterized the whole era: to smile enigmatically with one’s lips, to laugh into one’s fist, or to cover one’s mouth with a fan.
Who invented toothpaste?
By the end of the 18th century in Great Britain, people used tooth powder made of baking soda, brick dust, crushed porcelain, and pottery. Wealthy people applied the mixture to their teeth using a hard-bristled brush, while others used their fingers or cloth. Finally, in 1824, a dentist named Peabody came up with a composition based on soap shavings. John Harris added chalk to the mixture in 1854. Tooth powder was packaged in small paper bags that constantly slipped out of the hands of sleepy people and inevitably spilled. This annoyed people until 1873 when the pharmacist Colgate released a diluted powder paste in glass jars. The pinnacle of engineering thought was reached in 1892.
Washington Sheffield invented the toothpaste tube. He was inspired by lead tubes used for paints. He arranged with an artist friend to send him a batch of used tubes. He filled them with toothpaste and showed the world how easy it was to clean teeth. He became the first person to invent toothpaste in its familiar form for us. However, he did not have time to patent his invention. The idea with tubes was stolen from him by the agile Colgate, who already in 1896 released a batch of packaged paste.
Marketing games with toothpaste
The toothpaste tube has even become a unit of measurement. According to statistics, a person uses 8-10 packages of 75 or 100 ml per year. This means that in Moscow alone, approximately 107 million toothpaste tubes are used per year. Perhaps the reason for this is advertising, which we regularly see. Marketers know how to make us buy more. That’s why almost all pictures found on the query “how much toothpaste to use” show a 5-centimeter “sausage” covering the entire surface of the brush.
One manufacturer set a goal to double toothpaste sales. A young employee suggested increasing the size of the tube’s opening. The turnover increased 22 times. A pea-sized amount is the optimal amount of toothpaste needed to clean teeth. If more is applied, the bristles will not be able to reach the hard-to-reach places between the teeth and will slide on the layer of toothpaste. How much toothpaste do children need? The toothbrush should have an amount of toothpaste the size of a child’s fingernail. For the youngest children, it is sufficient to simply smear the brush around the tube’s opening. And of course, children should brush their teeth under the careful supervision of adults. Advertising has taught us the habit of squeezing the toothpaste along the brush. Trick the system: apply it across the brush. This way, it will be easier for you to control its consumption.
Myths about toothpastes
Fluoride-containing toothpastes are harmful.
Fluoride is completely safe in permissible concentrations. It should not exceed 1500 ppm, which you can find on any packaging. Fluoride suppresses the action of harmful bacteria that cause tooth decay. Yes, fluoride is contraindicated for people with fluorosis (white or dark spots on tooth enamel). This is an excess of fluoride in the body, which your dentist will likely inform you about.
Sugar-free toothpaste is better?
According to GOST, toothpaste cannot contain sugar or honey. The latter can be present as a flavoring. Toothpaste needs to be changed periodically so that teeth do not become accustomed to it. In fact, it is only after 3-6 months of constant use of one product that the body adapts and begins to derive maximum benefit from it.
Professional toothpastes are the solution to all problems.
Professional toothpastes have a completely different concentration of active substances, so their use is limited to a course duration. Only a dentist can prescribe them, prescribing the course and dosage. Such tubes are not available on supermarket shelves. The technique you use to brush your teeth is important to keep your oral cavity in order. And according to statistics, 80% of people do it wrong. Visit a dentist for prevention, use dental floss, and stay healthy!