Dental hygiene is one of the most important parts of basic household hygiene for most of us. And toothpaste is the way to go because it has a clear significance for dental health. According to historian Peter Miskell, this was not always the case. The brands started promoting the benefits of toothpaste way before they existed.
Importance of toothpaste
During the second half of the 19th century, Peter Miskell writes that dental disease increased dramatically. Easy access to sugary foods encouraged tooth decay. Meanwhile, the rise in the use of white flour meant that people would eat softer foods which meant less saliva stimulation and more plaque buildup.
At the beginning of the 20th century, dentists became aware of this phenomenon. The dentists recommended brushing teeth to remove the remains of food and stimulate saliva.
However, no chemical treatments were proven, so it did not matter what the companies did to the brushes to make them special. So, the best thing the dentists could have done was to beautify their product and make it taste good so more people would be attracted to it and use it.
Colgate Dental Cream, a popular brand at the time, sold the product because of its health benefits and used these benefits as a marketing strategy. In 1911 and 1912, Colgate came up with ideas to promote dental hygiene by sending two million tubes of toothpaste to schools along with brushes and hired hygienists to show students how to brush.
Advertising dental hygiene
In the 1920s, as the media industry, mainly with the introduction of commercial radio, dental hygiene was promoted greatly. Most advertisers did not focus on health benefits. Instead, they tried to focus more on the significance of whiter and fresher teeth. This way they could achieve more than one thing, people would buy more their product more and also feel good about it while they buy it.
The advertising movement proved well and give some outstanding results. According to a survey carried out in 1938 called the “cupboard inventory”, it was found that more than half of the population carried toothpaste in their cupboards.
But the toothpaste brands saw health benefits as their main point of popularity. In the early 1950s, Procter & Gamble spent more than $3 million to develop fluoride toothpaste in partnership with Indiana University researchers.
In 1956, P&G launched the toothpaste, Crest. The ad, produced by Norman Rockwell, used the slogan: “Look mom, no cavities” to increase the popularity of their product. But Crest was not exactly a hit. It could not overshadow the popularity of Colgate and was even behind P&G’s product, Gleem.
The real success for Crest came in 1960 with the support of the American Dental Association. Within two years, the product was leading the market and gained popularity. Other brands tried to catch up by adding fluoride to their products. But it was not until 1969 that Colgate received ADA approval and joined the popularity wagon.
Crest and Colgate quickly proved to be the more iconic brands. Today, they have split their business across many flavors and promises of fresher breath and whiter teeth. But the aims of cavity prevention and use of fluoride remain the same.
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