What about Dental Floss?

Did you ever think about where dental floss came from or when it was invented?

According to Wikipedia…

Levi Spear Parmly, a dentist from New Orleans, is credited with inventing the first form of dental floss. In 1819, he recommended running a waxen silk thread “through the interstices of the teeth, between their necks and the arches of the gum, to dislodge that irritating matter which no brush can remove and which is the real source of disease.” He considered this the most important part of oral care. Floss was not commercially available until 1882, when the Codman and Shurtleft company started producing unwaxed silk floss. in 1898, the Johnson & Johnson Corporation received the first patent for dental floss that was made from the same silk material used by doctors for silk stitches.

Nylon floss was developed during World War II by Dr Charles C Bass. He found it to be better than silk because of its texture which was more resistant and that it could be produced in various lengths and sizes.

Today, variety of dental flosses are available. Waxed, unwaxed monofilaments and multifilaments are most popular. Thicknesses and widths vary. Some waxed types of dental floss are said to contain antibacterial agents.


No matter what type or size of floss you choose, it’s important to floss once a day before or after brushing to allow the fluoride from the toothpaste to reach between the teeth.




Flossing is Important – The Choices

Anyone who has ever been to the dentist is aware of the importance of regular flossing. But how many people really do floss as often as they should? Luckily, there are lots of options available. There are more choices than ever on the market and it really doesn’t matter which you choose as long as you get the in-between spaces clean.

Traditional Floss
The “old school” type floss is really a bundle of nylon or plastic filiments, pressed together. It comes in both waxed and non-waxed varieties and is tried and true for cleaning between the teeth. You can also get flavored floss.

Besides getting the job done, regular floss is easy to carry in a purse or pocket or keep in a desk drawer, it’s inexpensive and you don’t need electricity or special equipment to use it.

If you are developing the flossing habit, you might not like traditional floss. It can fray or break, and using it can be difficult if you are not used to it.

Dental Tape
Dental tape works similarly to traditional floss, but is shaped differently. It is more like a ribbon while floss is more like a string. Dental tape tends to be a bit thicker and wider and many people feel it is easier to use. Beginners, especially, tend to prefer dental tape to traditional floss.

People with braces or other dental appliances sometimes find dental tape easier to use as well because the tape does not snag the way regular floss can.

Flossing Aids
Most flossing aids are designed to be used with traditional floss. If controlling the floss with two hands feels awkward and odd to you, you might find a floss holder or stick helpful. Floss holders give you a handle, making it a bit easier to get the floss into your mouth and between your teeth.

You can buy disposable flossers, or you can buy re-usable flossing aids. Some have Teflon coated floss and can be washed and re-used many times.

Floss Threaders are another option for people who have braces, bridges or other dental appliances. The floss threader helps the user get the floss between the teeth gently.

So-called super floss is similar to floss threaders in that it is useful for people who have dental appliances. It has different thicknesses along its length, including a stiff section to help the user get between oral appliances and teeth.

Oral Irrigators
Oral irrigators are possibly the most comfortable and least convenient way to clean between teeth and under the gum line. There are a range of oral irrigators on the market, from those that attach to the faucet, to fancier, standalone models. It is well worth the investment if you hate to floss but don’t mind using the irrigator.

During your next dental appointment be sure to talk to Dr. Brogdon or one of our hygienist to find out more about flossing and their recommendations.