Let's take a look at the most popular and used types of toothpaste and the flavours they offer. We'll surely find cool mint, fresh cool mint, icy cool mint, fresh mint, clean mint, menthol chill and many other variations that offer up the lure of 'mint'. Why is mint so popular as a toothpaste flavour?
Other toothpaste flavours are obviously available in the market. Children tend to prefer variations such as strawberry, tutti-frutti, bubblegum, watermelon even chocolate. There are some regional favourites such as clove or meswak flavours, new additions such as herbal toothpaste or charcoal etc. But variations of mint remain ubiquitous.
"People prefer mint to other ingredients because it has a high content of a key active ingredient: Menthol," explains Catalina Lee, Colgate Worldwide Director, Global Flavours and Fragrances. "Menthol tricks the brain, sending a signal that creates a sensation that you have ice in your mouth. It's a refreshing and clean taste. That's why we prefer mint."
Colgate first started using North American peppermint and spearmint oil to flavour their toothpaste in the late 1800s. But the concept of toothpaste has existed for far longer. According to Lee, it's believed that the Egyptians were the first to use a teeth-cleaning paste around 500 B.C. Toothbrush came in 1938, according to the Library of Congress. Around 500 B.C., some form of toothpaste was also used by the Ancient Romans and Greeks. Chinese people got creative with this and used an array of different substances to freshen their mouths, like ginseng, herbal mints, and salt.
"Be thankful for flavoring in toothpaste," says Lee. "Brushing is a boring routine, and flavor engages people in their brushing. And without mint or other flavors, today's toothpaste would taste unpleasant, bitter, astringent, and metallic."
Experimenting with outlandish flavours has been done in the past. A company called Accoutrements once touted a bacon toothpaste as well as a cupcake flavored variety. These are no longer available in paste form but you can still get the idea with bacon floss. There's a lot of variety available at Amazon or local super shops. But people hesitate over them and in the end choose mint anyway, because it's tough to ignore the refreshing effect of mint.
"Mint, spearmint, and wintergreen remain the lead flavors for oral care applications," says Lee. "But consumers are open to other types of flavors."
If you're in the mood for experiments yet want to stay on the safe side, there are always spicy essential oils like cinnamon, clove, anise, and vanilla that can offer a sense of warmth.
"Citrus oils provide a top note of flavor," says Lee. "Lemon is fresh and citrusy, lime is fresh but pungent, and orange is sweet and fruity."