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Both the toothbrush and toothpaste has evolved over the years. Did you know the Egyptians (5000 BC) are the first on record to use a paste substance to clean their teeth? Toothpaste was also used in India and China (500 BC). In this post, I’m going to share some interesting facts about the history of toothpaste and the toothbrush.

What Did They Use?

Have you ever wondered what ancient civilizations used before flavored minty-fresh toothpaste? They didn’t have the Internet or a social media profile to hide behind. So, what did they use to keep their teeth clean and their breath from offending others?  It has probably crossed your mind!

You may be surprised to know some ancient civilizations used a “faded black ink” that derived from gum arabic and soot combined with water. This concoction was designed to help whiten the teeth. People mixed these elements up with saliva in the mouth, and it would form into a toothpaste, according to historians.

Some people would grind up rock salt and mix it with mint, iris flower and pepper. The scent was invigorating.  A dentist from Austria once gave this ancient remedy a try and discovered that it actually works, however it did cause his gums to bleed. Thankfully, we don’t have to use harsh remedies just to keep our mouths clean and teeth white.

What’s NEXT? The Future of Toothpaste…

You may be surprised that toothpaste will soon be a lot different than the tube it comes in today. In the future, we will use tiny soft gel pods. You simply place the pod into your mouth and it dissolves instantly. There will no longer be a need for squeezing the last drop of toothpaste out of a tube. The pod will consist of a water-soluble packet made from plant-derived cellulose. It will work like mouthwash breath strips. There will be less waste, which is positive for the environment. Plus, it will be much easier to pack and brush your teeth when you’re on the go.

What is the Best Toothpaste to Use Today?

Tartar control, teeth whitening and cavity prevention: there are so many toothpaste products available and choosing the right one can be mind boggling. So, which is the best toothpaste for you?

I suggest choosing a brand that fights cavities. If you suffer from bad breath or gum issues, choose a brand but fights against bacteria. Try to avoid toothpastes that contain SLS (sodium lauryl sulfate) and artificial flavors and colors.

If you wear braces, choose a quality toothpaste that prevents cavities and helps eliminate tartar and plaque. Toothpaste designed for sensitive teeth may be a good choice as well.

History of the Toothbrush

Just like toothpaste, the toothbrush dates all the way back to ancient civilizations, such as the Egyptians and the Babylonians (3500-3000 BC). They created their own toothbrush tools by unraveling the tips of twigs.

Hundreds of years later (1600 BC), the Chinese chewed on aromatic tree twigs to help freshen up their breath. That’s all they really needed to freshen up their breath because they didn’t consume the preservatives and processed foods many people eat in modern times, which can contribute to bad breath. Some medications can cause dry mouth and bad breath.

The Chinese were also the first recorded in history to invent the toothbrush with bristles. In the 15th century, they used bristles from the necks of pigs.

They attached the bristles to bamboo handles to form a toothbrush.

Modern Toothpaste Design

When Du Pont invented nylon, natural toothbrush bristles began to fade. William Addis (1780) who created the handle of a toothbrush and in 1844 the 3-row bristle brush was invented.

21st Century Toothbrush

Thankfully, today we have the electric and manual toothbrush with ergonomically friendly handles that are curved, straight and angled with grips with contours. We have various bristle textures that range from soft to hard. Today’s toothbrush is not only designed for oral hygiene, but it is designed to help remove plaque and harmful bacteria that can cause oral disease.

Society has come a long way from using aromatic tree twigs and bamboo handles. We laugh, but if it wasn’t for past inventions, we wouldn’t have access to the modern toothbrush and toothpaste.


I came here when I was a child in the 70s, my daughter in the 90s, and now my little one in 2018. 3 generations of beautifully straight by teeth. Wouldn't go anywhere else. - Angela S. angela 5 star orthodontic review
What others thought impossible it was possible with Dr. Hyman's professional experience and great staff. You guys made wearing invisalign an awesome experience. Thank you for everything.

- Erika Murillo
erika 5 star orthodontic review

I was afraid to improve my smile but I am a professional person in the health industry and I need to look my best. Dr. Hyman spent time giving me options and patiently calmed my nerves. Liz made the payment plan reasonable and I felt welcomed by the entire staff. Best orthodontic office in the San Gabriel Valley!

- Nathan Klipfel
nathan 5 star review

*The reviews listed are from actual patients of Hyman Orthodontics. Individual results may vary. Reviews are not claimed to represent results for everyone.

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