Then things started moving! In 1987 in answer to the ‘Space race’, edible toothpaste was invented, while fluoride was only introduced to toothpastes in the 1960s. Pepsodent was and is still sold as a Unilever property in all markets except the United States and Canada. In 2013, Pepsodent was ranked 201st among India’s most trusted brands.

Today’s toothpastes are rather smooth, which is very unlike the substances used in years past – earlier, the essence of early tooth care was “abrasion,” and it stayed this way for a long time and even though “abrasion” is still a component in some modern toothpastes, it’s much less prevalent than it used to be.

Abrasion was significantly reduced during this time too, and more synthetic ingredients were added (such as sodium lauryl sulphate, which is a foaming agent), as well as sweeteners.

Also, fluoride toothpaste became the de facto standard during the late 1950’s and 1960’s. And from the 1980’s to the present day have seen all kinds of additions — gels, whitening agents, toothpaste for sensitive teeth and so on. It’s almost hard to keep up, really.

Herbal toothpastes have become available as an alternative to cleaning teeth – but without fluoride. These toothpastes include ingredients like peppermint oil, myrrh and plant extracts. My preference is presently an aloe Vera product, but more of that later.

In 1987 in answer to the ‘Space race’, edible toothpaste was invented. What is mainly used by children just learning to brush their teeth was actually invented by NASA, so that astronauts could brush their teeth without spitting into a zero-gravity abyss.


During much of the middle and later decades of the 20th century, the most significant change in toothpaste was the development of medicated products intended to remedy diseases and/or conditions of the teeth and/or gums.

The current trend, which started to emerge at the start of the 21st century, is the demand for toothpastes that whiten the teeth and give them a dazzling shine.

A relatively new ingredient called Triclosan provides another level of protection against cavities, plaque, gum disease, and bad breath.

While triclosan added to toothpaste has been shown to help prevent , there’s no evidence that antibacterial soaps and body washes containing triclosan are any more effective than plain soap and water in preventing illness and the spread of certain illnesses, according to the FDA.

Hence one has to wonder about its use in toothpastes which may be swallowed. Many manufacturers have started removing this ingredient from their products.

In 1990, the ‘Rembrandt toothpaste’ brand was developed and owned by closely held Den-Mat Corp, (a large dental materials company) which had been founded in 1974 by dentist Dr. Robert Ibsen.

It claimed to whiten and brighten your smile and used peroxide. Most whitening toothpastes use less concentrated versions of what dentists use in their offices’.

Toothpaste Constituents

Besides calcium carbonate, other types of abrasives in toothpaste include dehydrated silica gels, magnesium carbonate, silicate, particles of aluminum hydroxide (Al(OH)3), calcium carbonate (CaCO3), various calcium hydrogen phosphates, various silicas and zeolites, and hydroxyapatite there is polyethylene glycol which has the potential to cause hypersensitivity.

The future of toothpaste

The future of toothpaste appears safe. The history of hype and promotion will no doubt continue too. While some will buy whatever is ‘touted’ as being the one that whitens’ brightens, who knows perhaps even straightens (joke) teeth, many will seek a move away from questionable chemicals such as diethylene glycol, polyethylene glycol and fluoride.

Now we seem to be moving to the more natural pastes and gels. Do they work as well – I think so. Probably,  the more natural you can get, the better off you are.