Facts for Historical Romance Writers – Toothpaste

The Toothbrush: –

blue toothbrushNatural bristle brushes (toothbrush) were invented by the ancient Chinese who made toothbrushes with bristles from the necks of cold climate pigs. French dentists were the first Europeans to promote the use of toothbrushes in the 17th and early 18th centuries. William Addis of Clerkenwald, England, created the first mass-produced toothbrush. The first American to patent a toothbrush was H. N. Wadsworth and many American Companies began to mass-produce toothbrushes after 1885.  The Florence Manufacturing Company was also the first to sell toothbrushes packaged in boxes. In 1938, DuPont manufactured the first nylon bristle toothbrushes.


Toothpaste: – 


Toothpaste most likely originated in China, Egypt, and India more than 6,000 years ago.

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.

Egypt: –  a mixture of mashed salt, crushed pepper, wet mint leaves, and dried iris flowers.

India: – 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.

Hard to believe, but most Americans did not brush their teeth until Army soldiers brought their enforced habits of tooth brushing back home after World War II.  But since it was around for centuries, I’m sure a health conscious person could be brushing their teeth much earlier.  I would suggest not having toothpaste tubes or manufactured brushes in historical novels.

7 thoughts on “Facts for Historical Romance Writers – Toothpaste

    • Thanks Dee – that would be wonderful. It’s just something I’ve seen done in historicals – brushing their teeth with toothpaste. It doesn’t sound like it was done much here in the North American west. I noticed I omitted when toothpaste was actually invented – but I’m assuming it was after WWII. If you can get that omission in I would appreciate it. lol.

  1. Pingback: Playlist for a Dental Appointment | Dee Van Dyk

  2. Fascinating. We grew up brushing our teeth with a peppermint flavoured powder and if we ran out, our mother brought in the big guns — baking soda! I still use the baking soda occasionally in an attempt to mitigate the amount of coffee I drink. I never would have thought it didn’t come to North America until after WW11 as my Mom was born in 1913 and she was a fanatic about it. Just ran my tongue over my teeth – I think I’ll go brush them!

    • Possibly – they did brush – maybe not with toothpaste. I can always remember having toothpaste too – and brushing teeth. (Colgate) But I was born after the war. Yes – mom said something about baking soda. I just think historical writers shouldn’t be real free with having toothpaste laying around. The Chinese had brushes they say ages ago. The Chinese helped big-time in building the CPR railroad across the west.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s