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How Has Dental Floss Evolved Over Time?

October 23, 2020

Filed under: Uncategorized — drnagornaya @ 2:19 am
Young girl flossing

Did you know that floss has been around for over two centuries? However, it has evolved quite a bit before it became what it is today. Everyone knows that flossing is an essential step for the prevention of tooth decay, gingivitis, and periodontitis, but when did it first become popularized? Read on to learn about the origins of dental floss and how it’s changed throughout the years from your dentist in Buffalo Grove.

The Origin of Dental Floss

This useful and essential tool was created by a dentist named Levi Spear Parmly in New Orleans back in 1819. He was trying to come up with a creative way to remove the food debris and plaque that a toothbrush couldn’t quite reach. When it isn’t removed, patients suffer from gum irritation and are likely to develop periodontal disease. It was at this time that he started recommending that his patients use waxed silk thread between their teeth. Even back then, he believed that it was the most important part of oral hygiene. He discussed it in his book, Practical Guide to the Management of Teeth.

Making It to the Shelves

In 1882, floss was starting to be seen more often in stores because a company known as Codman & Shurtleff started selling unwanted silk floss. Before this time, toothpicks were a more widely used option. Eventually, Johnson & Johnson secured the first ever patent on silk dental floss in history.

Nylon Dental Floss

Dr. Charles C. Bass created a dental floss from nylon instead of silk in the 1940s. This is because silk floss had a greater tendency to shred while it was used, but nylon glided more smoothly between the teeth. Shortly afterwards, waxed floss came out. This is still a popular option today. Many people find the waxed version more comfortable.

Daily Flossing

It wasn’t until the 1970s that dentist started to recommend that their patients floss every single day. This increased the sales of floss and it was more commonly found in households across the country. Even though it has been nearly 50 years since daily flossing was more commonly recommended, the American Dental Association knows that only 16% of people actually floss this often. In fact, 8% of people never floss at all!

Always remember to take time each day to use floss between your teeth. By doing so, you are not only preventing periodontal disease, but also reducing your risk for decay and cavities. Flossing is just a part of keeping your smile healthy!

About the Author

Dr. Natalya Nagornaya earned her dental degree from the University of Illinois College of Dentistry and is an active member of the American Dental Association, Illinois State Dental Society, and the Chicago Dental Society. For more information on proper oral hygiene or to schedule an appointment at her office in Buffalo Grove, visit her website or call (847) 634-2525.

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