If you have ever woken in the morning to that feeling that your teeth somehow grew small socks over themselves during the night, or that you could literally scrape away the funky buildup that appeared as you slept, you might understand how and why early dental cleansers were created.
After all, the first known tooth-cleaning agent was made by the Ancient Egyptians in 5000 BC, and it required powdered ashes of ox hooves, myrrh, and burnt egg shells. Clearly, they were using something like powdered sand paper to remove the buildup on their teeth. Things got even more intense as the Greeks and Romans added substantially more abrasive ingredients that included crushed bones and oyster shells.
The Romans also wanted to address the bad breath issue and took to adding powdered charcoal and bark with flavoring agents to their dental remedies. Things went along like this for a while, and then the Persians shook things up around 1000 AD when they encouraged one another to be a bit gentler on their teeth. They began to reduce the abrasiveness of dental cleansers and began including burnt snail shells and gypsum or dried animal parts to enhance teeth.
Thankfully, things have changed rather radically since that long ago era, and over time toothpastes evolved into compounds meant to cleanse the teeth, deal with any breath problems, and also encourage health and well being in the mouth. This is why earlier treatments included materials like green lead, incense, honey, brick dust, borax powder, and even cuttlefish.
The goal was to create a toothpaste that worked well and tasted good, and through decades of experimentation, changes in taste, and knowledge about proper dental care we can find many workable and effective products. Head into any grocery store or pharmacy and you are going to encounter all kinds of dental cleaners. This is a good thing because it allows entire families to use products that cater to their age, needs, and tastes.
Just think of how easy it might be to get kids to brush their teeth with a fruity paste and a toothbrush that blinks or vibrates for the proper period of time needed to completely cleanse the mouth. Think too of how much you might enjoy a paste that is for sensitive teeth, or which whitens as it removes tartar, and more. Yes, cleaning has come a long way and we can now get optimal care in a tube of paste!