Ancient Toothpaste Ingredients that Still Work

Woman With ToothbrushToday, almost every home in every corner of the world has a tube of toothpaste. This moist and soapy gel helps remove any build-up of plaque or a film of bacteria that forms on your teeth and gums. The addition of fluoride and triclosan assists in reducing tooth decay, suppressing bad breath and demineralising the tooth’s enamel.

Long before humans invented the toothpaste gel, nature was the ultimate source of natural remedies for tooth decay and bad breath. Toothpaste recipes varied across cultures and locations. Today, modern toothpaste have straightforward recipes, but some marketed brands still contain ingredients that our ancestors once used. Here are a few examples.


Common salt is still a popular ingredient for homemade and commercial recipes. It acts both as a remineralising agent and an abrasive. Common salt not only holds rich deposits of essential minerals that reduce tooth decay, its crystalline texture makes for a great natural abrasive for cleaning deep crevices in the mouth. If you wear braces, your orthodontist will most likely prescribe a warm salt water rinse to reduce soreness or irritation.

Bones and Eggshells

Ancient Greeks and Romans crushed bones and oyster shells and added the powdered products into their toothpaste recipes to create a coarse gel. They used different instruments to clean the teeth. Some used rags while others used neem-tree twigs or mi swack.

Charcoal and Pumice

It was also pretty common then to slather the teeth with volcanic ash, also known as pumice, or pulverised charcoal. Up until now, charcoal is added to many oral hygiene regimens, both homemade and commercial, as it works as an antimicrobial agent and an abrasive.

Herbal Mints

Herbs and plants such as mints, cinnamon and ginseng were also among the many popular ingredients for toothpaste. Herbal ingredients helped suppress halitosis and worked as natural antiseptics, as well as made the toothpaste taste better.  While the abrasives made the recipe more functional, the herbs enhanced the taste.

The production of toothpaste has evolved since ancient times, but many ingredients from nature have stood the test of time. While commercial tubes are cheaper and more convenient to use, it would be nice to add nature’s best remedies and ancestral wisdom into the mix.