Unlocking the Secrets of Dentifrices: Origins, Types, Uses, and DIY Herbal Alternatives

Though the word ‘dentifrices’ might appear as  something fancy or  complicated to you in the first site, ironically it is the most common method used by 97% of the world’s population as a part of the daily oral hygiene routine.

What are dentifrices?

  • These are the agents used to clean the accessible regions of teeth.
  • These aid in removal of debris and plaque from teeth .
  • These are available as toothpowder , paste and gel . 

Origin and history of Dentifrices.

The word ‘dentifrice’ means toothpaste in French . 

  • Use of tooth powders dates back to 500BCs  in Egypt, China , India and many other civilizations.
  • Romans grinded bones ,hoofs, horns, crabs , oysters and mussel shells to make abrasive powder for cleaning teeth.
  • Chinese added herbs, mint , pepper to improve breath quality.
  • Alum was amongst the earlier used substances.
  • In 1892 Dr. Washington Shiefield invented the first toothpaste tube .
  • In 1924 , Diatomaceous earth was mined for making toothpaste. 
  • In Fact soap was part of most toothpaste recipes until 1945.

Types of dentifrices

  • Cosmetic dentifrice– these aid in removing extrinsic staining which occurs as a product of bacterial metabolism .
  • Therapeutic dentifrice-these must serve a purpose in curing the following:
  1. Caries incidence
  2. Plaque and calculus
  3. Gingivitis 
  4. Tooth sensitivity 

What composes your toothpaste?

Calcium carbonate, phosphate, silica, alumina
90-98% in powder
20-25% in paste gel
Stain removal /cleaning
0% in powder
3% in paste
Hold particles together
Sodium lauryl sulphate 
1-6%in powder
1-2%in paste
Form builder/surfactant
Glycerin , sorbitol 
0% in powder
25-30% in paste
Provide creamy texture
peppermint, wintergreen 
1-2% in both
0-0.1%in pasteImpart anticarcinogenic properties.
Tartar control agents
Disodium pyrophosphate 
0-1%in pasteControl calculus formation
Water15-25%in pasteSolvent
Desensitizing agent0-5%in pasteRemoves hypersensitivity
Titanium dioxide
1-2%in pasteMake paste opaque
Both powder and paste differ in their composition of constituents and abrasiveness.

How to use dentifrices?

  • Amount of dentifrice required for cleaning is marked as per the dab on first half of toothbrush
  • Dentifrice must be applied in between the bristles rather than on tips .
  • Children must be given half of the amount of dentifrice used for adults 
  • The World Health Organization (WHO) states that twice-daily tooth brushing with fluoride-containing (100-1500ppm) dentifrice should be encouraged to prevent dental disease.

When should dentifrices be avoided?

  • Dentifrices with high flouride content must be avoided in case of children as these could lead to flourosis.
  • Women going through post menopause must avoid overuse of dentifrice.
  • Patients having gingival recession must also avoid them and look up for substitutes.
  • Sodium Lauryl sulphate containing toothpaste if used on sores can lead to oral cancer gradually so it must be avoided.

Herbal dentifrices at home

Some ingredients can be mixed up and used at home in order to provide cleansing action.

a .Baking soda

b. Essential oils –

  • Peppermint
  • Spearmint
  • Lemon
  • Wild orange
  • Tea Tree Oil

c. Activated charcoal 

Also Read : What is Tooth Sensitivity? Know its Cause, Sign, Symptoms, Care and Treatment


  • Dentifrices have made a great advancement in modern times and are available in market according to the particular need of the user.
  • These are available as whiteners or desensitising toothpastes.
  • Before using any dentifrice do take advice from your dentist since not every toothpaste may do good to your dentition. And these are prescribed according to your needs.

Keep smiling!!
And for more such helpful topics keep visiting our site .
Any queries are most welcomed in the comment box.

Also Read : Important tips for maintaining good oral health.

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