A (Very) Brief History of Floss

A (Very) Brief History of Floss

Dec 17, 2018

Dental floss is a critical tool in caring for your teeth properly. Yes, we really do mean it. Why? Well, floss does 40 percent of the work of your toothbrush (think about it – floss reaches the two sides of your teeth your toothbrush cannot). Flossing is necessary not only to remove the annoying bits of food that get stuck between your teeth but flossing also helps to break up sticky plaque that forms in these areas, too.

Although flossing is critical for good oral health, according to the American Dental Association, only about 12 percent of Americans floss each day. The ADA recommends that adults floss at least once per day to keep their teeth healthy.

But, flossing is not a new concept. There have been some discoveries that suggest that flossing has roots that date as far back as the Prehistoric period. While the earliest versions of floss look a lot different than what we use today, the goal was the same; to get the bits of food from between the teeth. Here is a fun look at this history of floss:

Prehistory: Researchers are not exactly sure what the exact date prehistoric people’s began to use floss was, but some evidence suggests that more than 6,000 years ago, ancient humans were using horse hair and toothpicks to remove food from their teeth.

1815: Dr. Levi Spear Parmly, an American dentist, introduces waxed silken thread as floss. He also wrote about the importance of brushing and flossing daily in his book, the Practical Guide to the Management of Teeth.

1882: Flossing begins to catch on, and the Codman and Shurleft Company mass-produces unwaxed silk floss.

1898: Johnson & Johnson receives the first patent for dental floss.

1940s: Nylon becomes the popular choice over silk thread. Why? It cost less than silk and was much more durable.

1980s: The first interdental brush is invented to offer an alternative to flossing.

Today: There are many options for floss currently available: regular, mint, waxed or unwaxed, Gore-Tex, and even soft or spongy floss for sensitive gums. There are also floss picks available to help make flossing the back teeth and around orthodontic appliances easier and more comfortable.

So, there are some fun facts about floss that you didn’t know you ever needed. Another fun fact is that flossing is essential to having a healthy mouth and dentists can tell when you aren’t doing it.

Find out if you’re flossing properly; call us today at 972-987-4899 to schedule your checkup.

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