In all my years, I've never thought twice about why mint is our default flavour of choice for toothpaste. Looking back now, I can remember brushing with a sickly-sweet bubblegum flavour as a kid, but never wondered where that fun option went when I graduated to mint.
So, let's look into how mint became the stock-standard flavour and whether it actually needs to be our go-to.
Should our toothpaste be mint?
In short: no. To understand why, we need to briefly run through what normally goes into toothpaste. Today, formulas often contain fluoride (to prevent tooth decay), colouring agents, flavouring agents, sweeteners and ingredients that make the paste smooth, foamy or moist.
Swapping out that mint flavouring agent for a more fun flavouring agent won't actually interfere with the ingredients that do the cleaning. Hismile is one brand that has proved it, with its Hi by Hismile range made up of fun and fruity options like Watermelon, Peach Ice Tea, Mango Sorbet and Coconut Whip. Formulated with a new Fluoride+ formula, these flavours still tick all the boxes for oral care.
Why was mint first added to toothpaste?
Before formulations of toothpaste ramped up in the 18th century, some countries experimented with tooth powders and pastes. In China, ginseng, herbal mints and salt were all added to improve the taste.
During the early 1900s, Pepsodent, a new toothpaste that used mint to mask the taste of the other ingredients, really changed the game. It came onto the scene with ads promising the formula would help users avoid a filmy feeling on their teeth and from there, it took off in the United States.
How did mint take over the toothpaste world?
At the time Pepsodent was released, brushing your teeth wasn't the twice-daily habit it is now. In Charles Duhigg's book, The Power of Habit, he explores how some companies have altered our habits. Pepsodent was one of them.
It all came back to the clean and tingling feeling that mint left in your mouth. When people forget to brush their teeth, they miss that cooling sensation on their gums and tongue which often triggers them to go and brush.
Naturally, once Pepsodent's competitors figured that out, they followed suit and mint toothpaste was everywhere.
So, now that you know the history, go forth and shake up your current brushing habits! Live a little.