Toothpaste has become part of a person's everyday list of essential personal care items ranking right up there with soap, shampoo, deodorant and dental floss.
Unlike these items however toothpaste works with a partner item namely the toothbrush. Obviously you can't just lube a glob of toothpaste on your fingertip and expect your handheld digit to do a much better job than a toothbrush.
In the same way a dental floss can do a lot more work than a toothbrush when it comes to rubbing those gooey food particles that find their way in between teeth and gums.
Like all good inventions however toothpaste evolved from far simpler and even icky beginnings. According to the online encyclopedia wikipedia.com the earliest known reference to toothpaste is in a manuscript from Egypt in the 4th century AD.
Renowned for their influence in medicine, the Egyptians didn't have the faintest idea of what fluoride was and so made do with powdered salt, pepper, mint leaves and iris flowers.
And though they conquered nations the Romans certainly weren't geniuses when it came to dental hygiene as they reportedly based their toothpaste formulations on human urine (ugh).
Another unique recipe for toothpaste consisted of dragon's blood, cinnamon and burnt alum (whatever).
Americans didn't fare well at first, using such ingredients as charcoal (?) and burnt bread as teeth whiteners.
The modern toothpaste soon began to take shape in the 19th century when the toothbrush was used in tandem with what is then known as tooth powders.
In the 1900s a paste made of hydrogen peroxide and baking soda was used but this didn't surpass the popularity of toothpowder until World War I.
Colgate, meanwhile, made the first flexible toothpaste tube patterned after the paint tubes used by artists in 1896.
And fluoride, which was first introduced in 1914, didn't get the American Dental Association's seal of approval until the 50s.
So there you go-the journey of a thousand smiles did start with a humble step from antiquity.