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Crest Toothpaste Honored as National Historic Chemical Landmark


The American Chemical Society has designated Crest toothpaste as a National Historic Chemical Landmark, recognizing its introduction in 1955 as a transformative moment in dental care through the incorporation of fluoride chemistry.

Crest Toothpaste Honored as National Historic Chemical Landmark. Image credit: © American Chemical Society

Crest Toothpaste Honored as National Historic Chemical Landmark. Image credit: © American Chemical Society

The American Chemical Society (ACS) bestowed its National Historic Chemical Landmark designation upon Crest toothpaste, commemorating the advancement in home dental care at a ceremony held at Procter & Gamble (P&G) headquarters in Cincinnati, Ohio, on April 3, 2024. Crest was introduced in 1955, and was notable for incorporating fluoride chemistry to combat tooth decay.

Crest, developed through a collaborative effort between Indiana University (IU) and P&G, marked a pivotal moment in oral health, according to ACS President Mary K. Caroll in a press release from the ACS. "Following Crest’s introduction, fluoride toothpastes have improved the dental health of millions worldwide by putting powerful cavity-fighting chemistry in the hands of consumers. And that is a legacy to be proud of.”

The transformative power of toothpaste came in the mid-20th century when scientists realized the potential of fluoride in preventing tooth decay. Inspired by the natural fluoride in local water sources, researchers embarked on a mission to incorporate fluoride into toothpaste.

Led by IU researchers like Joseph Muhler, Harry Day, and William Nebergall, alongside support from P&G's Verling Votaw and team, years of research culminated in the discovery of a stannous fluoride formulation that effectively protected teeth without compromising its efficacy. Despite initial challenges with fluoride's reactivity, the team persevered, eventually achieving a breakthrough.

After rigorous testing to demonstrate its effectiveness, Crest toothpaste, enriched with stannous fluoride, received approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in 1955. By 1960, it became the first toothpaste endorsed by the American Dental Association for its proven ability to combat cavities.

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