Where Did Dental Floss Come From?

A Little History of The Dental Floss

Dental floss has become routine in our daily oral hygiene regimen, yet it wasn’t the case before. Since early times, people have tried using different tools to take out irritating matter stuck in between the teeth. While the toothbrush has been used in its earliest form to clean teeth, floss is fairly a recent invention. Know more about where this magic string came from.

While dentists early on know that debris stuck in between teeth can cause future gum problems, it was a dentist from New Orleans, Levi Spear Parmly, who came out with the first form of dental floss. In 1819, he said a waxen silk thread running through the spaces between the teeth, including the gum arches, can dislodge debris that a toothbrush cannot remove. It caught on and became popular. However, floss only became commercially available in the latter part of the century when the Codman and Shurtleft company started producing unwaxed silk floss. In 1898, the Johnson & Johnson Corporation patented it using the same silk material that surgeons used for stitches.

By the 1940s, the dental floss material was nylon which replaced silk. Its texture is more consistent and resistant to shredding, definitely an improvement over silk. Then the use of nylon made possible the development of waxed floss in the 1940s, and for the development of dental tape in the 1950s. By the 1970s, North Americans had made dental floss a part of their daily oral care routine.

From that time dental floss came in a variety of types. There are waxed and unwaxed dental floss, soft floss and spongy floss, and others. And there are those that can be used around braces and other oral appliances. There are expensive dental floss and inexpensive ones. Practically, their price tags do not mean much difference. Today’s interdental cleaners may come with dispensers, or have plastic wands or as floss picks.

But there are factors to consider in picking out the better version for you. For example, consider the tightness between your teeth surfaces; a dental tape is recommended for larger tooth spaces. Consider, too, the gingival contour, and the roughness of the surfaces of neighboring teeth. You might also need to consider if the user has the dexterity and preference to use certain types of dental floss.


Learn More About Dental Floss

For a more informed discussion about dental flosses, seek your dentist’s recommendations. Come and see your Bellevue dental professionals here at Overlake Dental and find out more.