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Why Is Toothpaste Minty?

The last time you went to buy toothpaste, you probably noticed something. Nearly all toothpaste is mint flavored. Whether it’s labeled as winter mint, peppermint, spearmint, or another variation on minty fresh, nearly every toothpaste has some sort of mint flavor. It’s so pervasive that most of us don’t think twice about it and just buy our preferred brand or the variety recommended by our MA dentist. However, there are some interesting historical facts that lead us to the most common toothpaste flavor.


Let’s take a look at the history of mint and how it made its way into our toothpaste.


Early Uses for Mint

The mint plant is named for Minthe, a river nymph from Greek mythology. She fell in love with Hades, the god of the Underworld, but his wife Persephone had a problem with that. Persephone turned Minthe into an unremarkable-looking plant that grew close to the ground where people would step on it. Hades felt bad for his part in Minthe’s fate, so he gave the plant a pleasant and sweet fragrance people would enjoy. Mint’s sweet fragrance is why people first thought to use it as a breath freshener. In Medieval Europe, oral hygiene wasn’t at its best. People would chew mint leaves or mix them with vinegar and use it as a mouthwash to freshen their breath. Mint also helps relieve indigestion, which is why you often find it in herbal teas.


Fresh Breath

In 1870, the London confectioner Smith & Company invented peppermint Altoids. Initially, they were sold to calm stomach ailments, but they became and remain popular because of their flavor and ability to freshen breath. A few years later, a dentist named Washington Sheffield invented toothpaste. The ingredients were hydrogen peroxide and baking soda, which didn’t taste great. To make it more palatable, Sheffield added mint extract. His patients liked it, and his invention took off. Soon, mint flavors spread into mouthwash and chewing gum, making it the most common flavor for all American oral hygiene products.


Better Oral Health with Your MA Dentist

Minty oral hygiene products have stayed popular because mint leaves a fresh and clean flavor in your mouth. The active ingredients in toothpaste and mouthwash are what actually clean your mouth, but the minty flavor is what gives you that clean feeling.

Do you know what other way you have to get that clean-mouth feeling? A visit to your MA dentist at Smile Boutique!


Contact us to schedule an appointment with your MA dentist!