Flossing Through History

Do you love learning about the history of people, places and products? If so, you might be interested in learning about where and when dental floss became an essential part of our everyday dental hygiene routines. Did you know that the American Dental Association says that up to 80 percent of plaque in your mouth can be eliminated simply through daily flossing? Let’s learn more about the origins of one of the most important parts of keeping our mouths clean and healthy.

The Origin of Flossing

The invention of dental floss is credited to Levi Spear Parmly, a dentist from New Orleans who, in 1819, suggested using waxen silk to remove the debris from between teeth. He believed this “debris” was the real cause of disease. Even then, he went as far as suggesting that flossing was the most important part of one’s oral health routine, contrary to some misinformation that has circulated in recent years suggesting flossing is unnecessary.

The first reference to floss was in James Joyce’s novel Ulysses. During World War II, nylon floss was devised, making it possible to produce the dental staple in large amounts and in different sizes. Nylon floss was also found to hold up better when it came to abrasion resistance.

Options, Options!

Today floss and interdental cleaning devices are available in a variety of forms. There are water flossers, also known as oral irrigators, that force water between teeth to remove debris and bacteria. Floss picks use waxed or unwaxed dental floss held tightly in place for you on a plastic piece. This makes it easier to maneuver the floss between teeth, especially if you suffer from hand or wrist mobility issues.

Whatever type of floss you decide to use, the most important thing is that you make it a daily part of your oral health care routine. And make sure you aren’t flossing too vigorously. Forcing the floss too roughly between teeth can damage gums, and bacteria can build up in the pockets surrounding the teeth.

For more information on best flossing practices or to schedule an appointment with our Dream Team, call us today at 425-312-1264