The development of toothpaste began as long ago as 300/500BC in China and India. According to Chinese history, a learned man, Huang-Ti, studied the care of teeth and claimed different types of pain felt in the mouth could be cured by sticking gold and silver needles into different parts of the jaw and gum. It was theories such as these that led to the development of dental cream.
First attempts at tooth cleaning included using abrasives such as crushed bone, crushed egg and oyster shells, which were used to clean debris from teeth. Tooth powders were the first noticeable advance and were made up of elements like powdered charcoal, powdered bark and some flavouring agents. This would be applied to teeth using a simple stick.
Toothpowder or dentifrice was first available in Britain in the late eighteenth century. It came in a ceramic pot and was available either as a powder or paste. The rich applied it with brushes and the poor with their fingers.
Modern toothpastes were developed in the 1800s. A dentist called Peabody was the first to add soap to toothpaste in 1824. Chalk was first added to toothpaste by John Harris in the 1850s. In 1873, toothpaste was first mass-produced into nice smelling toothpaste in a jar. In 1892, Dr. Washington Sheffield of Connecticut was the first to put toothpaste into a collapsible tube. Sheffield's toothpaste was called Dr. Sheffield's Creme Dentifrice. Advancements in synthetic detergents (after World War II) replaced the soap used in toothpaste with emulsifying agents such as Sodium Lauryl Sulphate and Sodium Ricinoleate.
The 1960's saw the introduction of fluoride into toothpaste. This development was followed in the 1980's with the addition of soluble calcium fluoride to fluoride toothpastes. It is therefore within the last thirty years that toothpastes contains the two ingredients - calcium and fluoride. Nowadays, there are controversial views on the effectiveness and safety of fluoride toothpaste. For those who are safety concious, the use of natural toothpaste might be a better choice.