Dental floss is one of the most crucial oral hygiene products on the market today. It helps preserve a healthy smile by eliminating plaque and food particles from the small, tight crevices between your teeth. But did you know that floss wasn’t always the thin, waxed string we know today? It’s gone through many changes over the centuries! Read on to learn how dental floss has evolved through the ages.
Ancient Dental Care
Before the emergence of dental technology, chewing on sticks was considered the best method to clean teeth. This practice dates back to the ancient Egyptians in 3000 B.C. They also used ground pumice and vinegar to create toothpaste. However, the combination was quite harsh and often resulted in extensive dental damage. Studies show that several items, including horsehair and twigs, were used to clean in between teeth during this time.
The Invention of Dental Floss
In the early 1800s, New Orleans-based dentist Dr. Levi Spear Parmly wanted to find a way to remove the stubborn pieces of food that a toothbrush simply could not reach. He was determined to find an effective solution as he knew the leftover food particles lead to gum irritation or disease. Finally, in 1819, he began recommending waxen silk thread to his patients with a firm belief that flossing was the most critical part of oral care.
How Dental Floss Has Evolved Over Time
Since its invention, dental floss has evolved quite a bit throughout the years. Here’s a brief rundown of how it has changed:
- 1882 – A company called Codman & Shurtleff began selling unwaxed silk floss in their stores. Their products were on shelves for over 15 years before the Johnson & Johnson Corporation secured the first-ever patent for silk dental floss.
- 1940s – Dr. Charles C. Bass created a floss made out of nylon instead of silk. To this day, nylon is one of the most widely used materials to produce floss. Waxed floss also made its debut around this time.
- 1970s-2000s – In the 1970s, dentists started suggesting that patients floss at least once a day to maintain good oral health. Unfortunately, studies show that only 16% of Americans floss daily – so we still have a long way to go!
Modern Dental Floss
Nowadays, flossing tools have evolved into many different textures, flavors, and materials. But what if you don’t like the feeling of string floss? No worries – some alternatives are just as effective at eliminating plaque and food particles! Dental picks and water flossers are two excellent options to consider. People with braces, delicate gums, and permanent or temporary bridges can benefit the most from water flossing.
Thanks to today’s dental tools, flossing is more comfortable and convenient than ever! And remember – you should floss once a day for at least two minutes. Incorporating this step into your daily routine is a simple but effective way to maintain a fresh, healthy smile.
About the Practice
At Berquist Family Dentistry, we provide exceptional, personalized, world-class dental care the entire family can enjoy. Our team has years of experience and training in many facets of dentistry, meaning you can trust us for all your oral health needs. If you’d like to learn more about the history of dental floss, visit our website or call (219) 226-0544.