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Black is the new white?

When Ben went to Europerio the other week I told him not to come home unless he brought us some decent presents. He duly returned with the obligatory pens (no bugs or baseball caps sadly) and a tube of very smart looking toothpaste. It’s Swiss, (think Sigg water bottles, Swiss Army knives, Roger Federer) so no wonder it looks good, is made by a company called Curaprox and claims to be for the ‘Hey!-I-make-it-happen-generation”. What’s more the toothpaste is black (I know, my sentiments exactly) It looks like toothpaste, tastes like toothpaste but it’s black.

Using charcoal to clean your teeth is actually nothing new

It was the Romans that started using powdered charcoal along with bark but before that the Egyptians were at it.

OK, so here’s a quick history of toothpaste then if I must. The Egyptians were using a paste to clean their teeth around 5000BC. They crushed rock salt, mint, dried iris flowers and pepper, mixed it all up and spread it on their teeth. It might have made their gums bleed but hey! The Greeks and Romans had toothpaste as did the Chinese and Indians by 500BC. By 1780 people were scrubbing their teeth with burnt bread and in 1824 a dentist named Peabody added soap for cleanliness apparently.

Guess who started commercially producing the first nice-smelling toothpaste in 1873? Yes it was Colgate and it was sold in a jar. Less than 20 years later Dr Washington Sheffield put toothpaste in a collapsible tube and we have never looked back. Fluoride was introduced in 1914 and until just after the Second World War toothpaste continued to contain soap but then ingredients to make the paste smooth were introduced.

Nowadays we have an enormous array of toothpastes to choose from including herbal toothpaste and edible toothpaste apparently invented by NASA so that astronauts could brush their teeth without spitting into a zero-gravity abyss. Our favourite is Duraphat but you can only get it on prescription from your Dentist because it is so good.

So back to the lovely black one - the blurb on the back states it is a “whitening toothpaste: activated charcoal absorbs substances that cause discolouration while hydroxylapatite (HAP) hardens the enamel and makes the teeth pearly white. Enzymes boost the anti-plaque action of the saliva. Together with the fluorides, this doubles the protection against tooth decay”. Hmmm.

Not sure I’m entirely convinced (if you really want whiter teeth you are far better popping into see your Dentist and asking about a home whitening kit which will have far longer lasting results) and at £20 a tube I think I’ll just leave it on the bathroom shelf alongside my Sigg water bottle, Swiss Army Knife and photograph of Roger Federer so they can all look good together.

Rebekah Pearson
Rebekah Pearson
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