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The History of Dental Floss

August 15, 2023

Filed under: Uncategorized — morganhill @ 2:55 pm
Zoom in on a white container with a few inches of floss pulled out on a gray surface

Dental floss is a key component to our daily oral healthcare routine. After all, brushing and flossing are considered the bare minimum in preventative care for any dental hygiene regimen. It’s entirely possible that you’ve been hearing about the importance of this step for as long as you’ve been alive! But have you ever stopped to wonder where floss originated or how long it’s been around? Keep reading to learn more about how dental floss has evolved from its earliest forms into what we know today.

When Did People Start Using Floss?

It’s difficult to pin down an exact year that people began flossing because anthropologists have found evidence that suggests crude forms of flossing existed in prehistoric times. Human skulls have been found with grooves that suggest early humans may have used strands of horse hair. As unpleasant and unimaginable as that sounds to us now, it did provide the same basic functionality as floss that we buy at a store.  

When Did Modern Floss Get Its Start?

Floss developed further in the early 19th century. In 1815 an American dentist by the name of Dr. Levi Spear Parmly introduced the concept of using waxed silk thread to remove unwanted food particles from between our teeth. He believed this was so important to our welfare that he included information about flossing daily in his book, A Practical Guide to the Management of Teeth.

By the end of the 19th century floss became more widely available to the public at large when the company Codman and Shurtleff began selling unwaxed silk floss in their stores.

Wartime Changes

Like so many other aspects of history, floss changed hugely after World War II. Though it had been available for purchase, it didn’t become a truly common household item because silk was deemed too expensive and wasn’t considered practical for everyday use. In the 1940s, however, Dr. Charles Bass created a nylon floss that could be used in place of silk. The new nylon version had a consistent texture, could glide more easily across teeth, and didn’t shred like its silken counterpart.

Floss As We Know It Today

Since the advent of nylon floss, we have developed many new materials and technologies that have led to different types available on the market today. Some versions have stiffened ends meant to floss around braces or other dental equipment, for example. There also is a variety of textures ranging from spongy to softer floss. There are so many choices that you can even decide whether or not you want flavored floss!

With the many options of floss available to us in today’s modern world, it’s easy to include this crucial step in your dental care routine. By brushing and flossing twice every day, your teeth can enjoy a long and healthy history of their own!

About the Practice

At Morgan-Hill Dental Care, patient comfort always comes first. With three dentists onsite, they offer a wide array of services for patients of all ages. Whether you need preventative care, cosmetic solutions, require restoration, or even have a dental emergency, they can help! If you’re interested in scheduling a checkup, feel free to request an appointment through the website or call (207) 839-2655.

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