Toothpaste most likely originated in China, Egypt, and India more than 6,000 years ago. In China, twigs and bones were mashed and mixed with water, salt, and flower petals to form a thick paste. This paste was then put on the end of a sharp bamboo leaf and applied to the teeth. This proved to be a very effective treatment for gingivitis.
In Egypt, manuscripts from the 400s describe a recipe for the best toothpaste. It includes a mixture of mashed salt, crushed pepper, wet mint leaves, and dried iris flowers. Some evidence also points to a form of urine-based toothpaste that was mainly popular in Rome.
India’s toothpaste tradition is based on its strong background of Ayurvedic medicine. Special twigs were used for brushing and each twig was naturally filled with a sweet nectar. By chewing the twig and rubbing it against the teeth, India became renowned for its white teeth, fresh breath, and clean mouths.
Modern day toothpaste consists of baking soda and hydrogen peroxide, and is infused with fluoride to protect teeth from decay. Cavity protection provided by the best toothpastes has dramatically decreased the number of dentures needed in America.