5 Surprising Facts about Toothpaste

5 Surprising Facts about Toothpaste

It may not be international toothbrush day quite yet (that’s June 26th, in case you didn’t celebrate last year), but as far as we’re concerned, our teeth are our best friends. That’s why we wanted to take a few minutes to celebrate toothpaste, the unsung hero of good health and delicious breath.


1. Astronauts Normally Swallow Their Toothpaste in Space

Back in the 1960s, NASA worried that their moonwalking employees wouldn’t be able to maintain their dental hygiene. As a result, they developed a foamless, ingestible toothpaste called NASAdent. However, more recently, the Canadian Space Agency reports that astronauts, “use the same toothpaste as on earth.”

(Related: Watch Astronaut Chris Hadfield brush his teeth in space)

Astronaut Chris Hadfield told viewers on YouTube that although he also uses a standard toothpaste, the process of brushing is anything but usual; weightlessness requires swallowing any toothpaste used. But don’t worry, in small quantities, it won’t hurt you.


2. Natural Remedies Can Work Too

Not everybody uses commercial toothpaste. While baking soda might be the most common alternative, salt is also a favorite for some. Sprinkle some sea salt on your brush, and get started – just watch out for abrasion of the teeth!

3. Toothpaste Changes How Your Food Tastes

Ever wonder why certain foods just aren’t the same, directly after you’ve brushed? It’s not just a matter of clashing flavors. Toothpaste actually alters the way your body interprets tastes. It does this by inhibiting taste receptors on our tongue that detect sweetness.

This means that bitter tastes are enhanced, and sweet ones are dulled, leaving us with a bitter taste in our mouths. The solution? Save the orange juice for lunch time!

4. Striped toothpaste is just a novelty

It all started back in the 1950s. Unilever developed a toothpaste tube that kept one color of paste at the back of the tube, and another color of paste at the top. When squeezed, the two materials travelled down through the nozzle, mixing together.

(Related: Marvis Toothpastes from Tuscany, Italy)

And although the method of creating striped toothpaste has changed over time, the purpose hasn’t: it just looks cooler.

5. Before Modern Toothpaste, We Used Eggshells and Crushed Bones

If there’s one reason to be grateful for modern science, it’s this: back in the old days, humans used whatever they could find to brush their teeth. 5,000 years ago, the Ancient Egyptians made dental powder out of crushed ox hoof ashes and burned eggshells.

Later on, the Ancient Greeks and Romans improved on this recipe with the addition of crushed bones. Although this improved the paste’s abrasive qualities, we’re not sure that it did anything for the taste.

We’ve come a long way when it comes to caring for our teeth. And it’s no wonder – we live about 8 decades, on average, and we only get two pairs of teeth. So regardless of which paste you end up using, one thing remains true: if you take care of your teeth, they’ll take care of you.

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