'Signal 2' Gibbs toothpaste, c 1973.
© Science Museum / Science & Society Picture Library
A tube of Signal 2 toothpaste with box. Toothpaste is thought to have been used as long ago as 500 BC in China, but modern toothpastes date from the 1800s. The first toothpaste to be sold in a collapsible tube was Colgate Dental Cream in 1896. From 1956, fluoride began to be added to toothpaste as extra protection against tooth decay.