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Toothpaste is for more than your teeth

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Did you know ancient Egyptians were using a tooth powder to maintain a clean mouth as far back as 5000 BC? They did not use toothbrushes; just their fingers.

The Greeks and Romans improved on the tooth cleaning process, but it was not until 1873 that toothpaste was first mass-produced.

Toothpaste has a storied past. As far back as 5000 BC, ancient Egyptians were using a tooth powder to maintain a clean mouth. They didn’t use a toothbrush; just their fingers. The Greeks and Romans improved upon the process, but it wasn’t until 1873 that toothpaste was first mass-produced.

Little is known about the history of toothpaste from the time the Persians improved upon the Greek and Roman formulas until the 18th century in Britain. It was there that doctors, dentists and chemists introduced tooth powders (dentifrice) that included abrasive substances like brick dust and crushed china. The tooth powders were transformed into powders when glycerine was added in the early 19th century.

During the 1850s, this new paste led to the development of toothpaste in a jar. In 1873, Colgate started the mass production of toothpaste in jars.

Toothpaste was featured in a collapsible tube in 1892 when Dr. Washington Sheffield of Connecticut invented Dr. Sheffield’s Crème Dentrifice. Colgate toothpaste was changed from jars to tubes when this new invention debuted.

Even though the manufacturing and marketing of this new product was being led by Americans, the American people did not become regular brushers until after WWII—returning GIs brought the habit back from Europe. Inventors and researches continued to improve upon Dr. Sheffield’s formulation after the war. Soon after, fluoride was discovered in an attempt to strengthen tooth enamel.

Over the years, many other uses for toothpaste have been discovered. The February 17, 2014 issue of FIRST for women shares ten of these in their “life made easy” section of the magazine. They are paraphrased for you below:

  1. Pin up precious artwork: Small children love creating pictures for family members, which they then want to see displayed. Instead of scarring your walls with pinholes, dab toothpaste (a gentle adhesive) onto each of the back corners of each masterpiece and attach to the wall. When it is time to exchange that picture for another, simply wipe away the toothpaste with a damp cloth, let the wall dry and repeat the process above.
  2. Gently remove a haircolor oops: While you can save lots of money by dyeing your hair at home, sometimes you end up with some dye spots around your hairline. To remove them, massage a bit of non-gel toothpaste onto the affected areas until the pigment disappears, then wash away with warm water.
  3. Brighten stained fingernails: The last nail color you used left your nails with a yellow tinge. To get rid of it, squirt toothpaste onto a nailbrush and scrub your nails. Soon your nails will return to their natural shade.
  4. Hang photo frames perfectly: When it is time add your next photo to your gallery wall, simply place a dollop of toothpaste on the hanging loop, level the frame and gently push it against the wall. A bit of the toothpaste will remain behind, showing you exactly where to insert the nail.
  5. Salvage a scratched glass tabletop: To erase scratches on a glass tabletop, rub a dime-size dollop of non-gel toothpaste into the nicks with your fingertips. Let sit for about 5 minutes (until the paste is dry), then wipe with a soft cloth.
  6. De-grime an iron in seconds: To clear buildup from the steam holes in your iron, unplug it and wait until it is cool, then squirt a quarter-size amount of toothpaste onto a paper towel and gently scrub the iron’s metal plate. Wipe any leftover paste with a damp paper towel.
  7. Fog-proof your bathroom mirror: Apply a dime-sized dot of toothpaste to a soft cloth and use it to wipe down the glass, then buff away any excess with a damp cloth.
  8. Repair a DVD that keeps skipping: Dab toothpaste onto a cotton ball and rub gently over the disc to polish the surface. Rinse with cool water and wipe dry before playing the disc again.
  9. Nix lingering food odors from hands: Squirt a dollop of toothpaste onto your palms and wash as you would with soap. Additionally, the paste’s mildly abrasive granules will exfoliate and soften your skin.
  10. Easily erase salt marks from shoes: Squirt a pea-size dab of non-gel toothpaste onto a soft clean cloth and use it to rub away the marks, then wipe with a damp cloth.


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