Celebration of World Oral Health Day on Sunday 20 March 2022 made me pause for thought and consider just how toothpaste has been, and continues to be, cleverly formulated to provide us all with winning smiles and sweet-smelling breath.
Around the world, ancient peoples used paste to clean and whiten teeth, and to freshen breath, for thousands of years. However, many of the ingredients used then (including crushed bones!) were very different to those used today.
Toothpaste as we know it today is a much more 'modern' invention, dating from the 1800s. It was first available as a powder before being formulated into a paste, and appeared in tubes from the 1890s. Thankfully, the soap component of formulations that had been used was replaced with other, more palatable ingredients after 1945.
Modern toothpastes typically contain fluoride, colouring agent(s), flavouring agent(s), sweetener(s) and other ingredients to provide the texture and foaming that we all recognise.
Despite its long history, technological advances are still being made with toothpaste formulations in a continued drive to improve our oral hygiene. Since the beginning of 2021, just over 2,000 patent applications assigned at least the International Patent Classification (IPC) code A61Q 11/00 (Preparation for care of the teeth, of the oral cavity or of dentures; Dentifrices, e.g. toothpastes; Mouth rinses) were published globally, with 293 of these being filed at the US Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) and 184 at the European Patent Office (EPO). Better teeth whiteness, improved breath freshening, enhanced cavity prophylaxis, and improved flavour are areas, to name but a few, where we continue to see developments.
What will our toothpastes be able to do to ensure we are proud of our mouths in the next 12 months? We wait with bated, yet freshened, breath…