From ArticleWorld

Toothpaste is a semi-liquid gel or paste that is a part of the tooth brushing process. Because many of them contain mild abrasives, flavors that mask mouth odors and active ingredients to fight tooth and gum disease, toothpastes are a good adjunct to the actual act of brushing one’s teeth.


The use of some kind of paste or powder to clean teeth likely predates history. A reference to toothpaste was found in a document from the 4th century AD, which contained a combination of salt, pepper, mint and extracts of iris flowers. In Roman cultures, human urine was used as the basis of tooth paste. The ammonia in urine actually has the effect of whitening teeth.

In the 1800s, tooth powders were initially more popular than any kind of paste. Most were made of chalk, pulverized abrasive items, salt and charcoal. Just prior to the 20th century, a paste made from hydrogen peroxide and baking soda was first marketed but was not more popular than tooth powders until after World War I. The first collapsible toothpaste tube was manufactured by Colgate in 1896.

Fluoride began to be added to toothpaste in the 1950s in response to the effect of fluoride in preventing tooth decay. Fluoride is still manufactured as part of toothpaste in either collapsible tubes or in stand-up pumps.


The most popular active ingredient in toothpaste is some form of fluoride, such as stannous fluoride, sodium fluoride or sodium monofluorophosphate. Approximately 1000 parts per million of fluoride is in the toothpaste manufactured in the US, although the concentration varies in different parts of the world.

Sodium dodecyl sulfate or some other sulfate ingredient is added to provide foaming action. While this action is desirable, some people can develop mouth sores from this kind of product and can use one without it. Many other ingredients have been recently added to toothpaste. Hydrogen peroxide, mouthwash ingredients, herbs, baking soda, calcium, vitamins and enzymes can be added to some toothpastes. Often, hydrogen peroxide or baking sodas are used to add a whitening action to the paste.

Abrasives such as hydrated silicates are added to provide gentle abrasive abilities to the toothpaste as are some of the same ingredients found in shampoo and other cleansers. Striped toothpastes are generally just for aesthetic purposes and contain just toothpaste in two different forms. Toothpaste pumps with hydrogen peroxide in them sometimes come out of two different holes in a pump that is mixed together, providing an extra foaming action.