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History of Dental Floss

Throughout history, people have used various implements – including pointed sticks – for cleaning between their teeth. One of the hardest places to reach – and virtually impossible using only a toothbrush – interdental cleaning is an important part of overall dental health.

Dental FlossNowadays, we have a cleaning tool perfect for interdental cleaning – dental floss. Dental floss is a cord of thin filaments used to remove food and dental plaque from between teeth in areas where a toothbrush cannot reach. Floss comes in a variety of colors, textures and even flavors.

So how did we go from pointed sticks to dental floss? Here’s a brief history.

Levi Spear Parmly, a New Orleans dentist, is credited with the invention of dental floss as we know it today, according to a history compiled by OralB. In 1815, Parmly began using and advising his patients to use a thin silk thread to clean between the teeth.

The concept grew over the years, and more than half a century later, Codman and Shurtleft Co. based in Randolph, Massachusetts, began marketing an unwaxed silk dental floss in 1882. Johnson & Johnson followed in 1896, taking out a patent in 1898 for dental floss made from the same silk material used by doctors for silk stiches.

In the 1940s, nylon, with its consistent texture and resistance to shredding, replaced silk as the preferred dental floss material. Waxed floss in the ‘40s and dental tape in the ‘50s developed as a result of using nylon as well.

The variety of dental floss today includes newer materials like Gore-Tex and different textures that range from spongy to soft. Floss also includes stiffened ends now as a way to help with flossing around braces or other dental appliances.

A key factor in maintaining oral health, floss reaches between the teeth to get rid of plaque and to reduce the risk of dental diseases such as gingivitis. Along with brushing twice per day and regular use of mouthwash, flossing concludes the ultimate trifecta in a healthy dental routine.

Of course, no dental regimen is complete without regular visits to your dentist. To schedule your next appointment with Brockport Dental, call us today at 585-589-0000 or request an appointment online now.

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