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Groundbreaking University Innovations

When University Innovation Changed the World: The Dental Fluoride Industry

By October 20, 2022January 20th, 2023No Comments

Did you know that Indiana University chemists created the first fluoride toothpaste? Dr. Harry Day, Dr. Joseph Muhler, and Dr. William Nebergall developed the invention that changed the modern dental industry.

Before the invention of fluoride toothpaste, ingredients in the product during the 1800s included soap and chalk, and even before that contained harsh ingredients like crushed bones and oyster shells. Problems from poor oral hygiene resulted in dentures made of wood or ivory. Since these elements did little to protect oral health, scientists were needed to develop an effective solution. 

Oxford University conducted early research that showed fluoride in water would prevent tooth decay. In 1950, Procter & Gamble funded research for Indiana University scientists to create a new toothpaste formula. After years of studies, in 1955, Procter & Gamble’s Crest debuted the first toothpaste containing fluoride. 

Fluoride toothpaste prevented tooth decay and established an entire category around tooth preservation. Companies like Colgate Palmolive and Proctor-Gamble have driven consistent growth in this category for years. The dental fluoride treatment industry is worth $11.2 billion dollars today and is dominated by toothpaste, resulting from an innovation partnership between University and industry.

Partnering with universities is a viable way to innovate and drive growth to your organization. Where to begin is often the most difficult part. FirstIgnite will help your organization identify and partner with the specific universities, laboratories, and experts that you need in order to create the next category-defining innovation, like fluoride toothpaste.