A Brief History Of Dental Floss

TODAY, FLOSSING IS A staple of oral hygiene and health. But have you ever wondered when we started flossing? You might be surprised by the answer. 

Flossing Is An Older Concept Than You Might Think

While we don’t know the exact beginnings of flossing, it looks like as long as food has been getting stuck in our teeth, we’ve used some type of interdental cleaner. Discoveries have been made that suggest cleaning between teeth was practiced as early as the Prehistoric period!

Did you know that even some species of monkeys practice flossing? This has been most prominently observed in Thailand. Long-tailed macaque monkeys have been known to pull out hair from their human visitors and use it as floss! They have also been observed flossing with coconut fibers or twigs. Mothers even take the time to teach their young how to floss properly!

The First Dentist To Recommend Flossing

Floss as we know it today was developed around 200 years ago. In 1815, an American dentist named Levi Spear Parmly introduced the idea of using waxen silk thread as floss. In his book called “A Practical Guide to the Management of Teeth,” he stated that the silk thread should be run “through the interstices of the teeth… to dislodge that irritating matter which no brush can remove and which is the real source of disease.”

Unfortunately, flossing didn’t catch on right away. Victorian’s were more interested in toothpicks than putting their hands in their mouths to pull thread through their teeth. Charles Dickens–along with many other wealthy gentlemen of the time–owned a retractable toothpick engraved with his initials and ornamented with ivory. Fancy!

Over Time, Flossing Slowly Gained Popularity

It wasn’t until the mid-20th century that flossing became more widespread. During World War II, Dr. Charles C. Bass, known as “The Father of Preventive Dentistry,” developed nylon floss, noting that it was more elastic and durable than silk. After the war, flossing became much more mainstream.

Keep Up The Good Work And Floss On!

For the most part, floss today is still made of nylon. But now, there are a lot more options than there used to be such as dental tape, waxed floss or woven floss. There are pre-threaded floss picks and floss threaders for orthodontic patients; there are even devices that claim to floss your teeth with water or air!  Although be aware that although these air and water type devices are good adjuncts to flossing, they do not replace good old-fashioned flossing!

All in all, it doesn’t much matter what type of  floss you use (although some are more effective than others), what matters is that you do! Correct daily flossing can make all the difference in your oral health and is one of the simplest ways to prevent tooth decay. So, since human beings have been cleaning between their teeth for centuries, all we have to say is keep up the good work, and floss on!

Thank you for choosing our practice!

 

The content on this blog is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of qualified health providers with questions you may have regarding medical conditions.

 

Photo Credit:  Top image by Flickr user Photos by S.Harrison/UofL used under Creative Commons Attribution-Sharealike 4.0 license. Image cropped and modified from original.

Take Care Of Your Tooth Enamel

TOOTH ENAMEL IS THE hardest substance in the human body. But don’t let that fool you–it’s far from invincible. In fact, there are things you may be doing on a regular basis that weaken your enamel, which could lead to more frequent cavities, tooth discoloration and sensitivity.

Tooth Enamel Acts As A Protective Barrier

The enamel makes up the tooth’s protective outer layer and is the first line of defense against harmful acids and bacteria. Unlike other parts of the body, tooth enamel cannot regenerate or heal. This means that once damage is done to the enamel, it cannot be repaired. That is why we want to give you some tips on how to best take care of your teeth and keep your tooth enamel in tiptop shape!

Keep Your Tooth Enamel Healthy And Strong

There are a number of things you can do to care for your enamel and protect it from erosion.

Watch what you eat and drink

Sugary, starchy and acidic foods and beverages are the top offenders when it comes to weakening and ultimately eroding tooth enamel. Calcium-rich foods and drinks, however, help to neutralize acids in the mouth and strengthen tooth enamel. You can find calcium in dairy products, dark leafy greens such as kale, soybeans, and sardines.

Our simple recommendation is to try to eat healthier and cut back on sugary snacks and drinks, soda in particular. Soda is especially damaging to tooth enamel due to its high sugar content and acidity. If you must drink something acidic or sugary, even fruit juice, use a straw!

Drink plenty of water

Drink water throughout the day to avoid dry mouth. Rinse your mouth out with water after meals to get rid of food debris as well as stimulate saliva flow. Not only does our saliva contain antimicrobial agents that protect teeth and defend against bacteria, it also consists of calcium and phosphate that remineralize and build up tooth enamel.

Brush and floss properly and regularly

When bacteria in the form of plaque is allowed to remain on the teeth for long periods of time, they produce acids that eat away at tooth enamel. Regular brushing and flossing rid the mouth of plaque and food debris. Be sure not to brush too aggressively as this habit will weaken enamel over time.

See your dentist

Regular checkups and cleanings are vital to maintaining a healthy mouth. When you come in for your biannual appointments we look for signs of tooth enamel wear, such as tooth grinding and cavities, and can help you get them under control early.

Do Your Teeth A Favor

Your tooth enamel works around the clock to defend your teeth. By following the above guidelines, you can return the favor by protecting your enamel from wear and erosion. Do you have any questions about tooth enamel? Feel free to comment below or send us a message on Facebook!

We’re ENAMELED with our patients!

 

The content on this blog is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of qualified health providers with questions you may have regarding medical conditions.

Photo Op: Types Of Dental X-Rays

EVERYONE WHO’S BEEN TO THE DENTIST is familiar with X-rays. You put on the lead apron, you’re given a rectangular contraption and told “put this between your teeth and bite down,” and then you hear that tinny beep. Have you ever wondered what the different types of dental X-rays are and what they’re for? Let’s take a closer look at three of the most common ones.

The Big Picture: Panoramic X-Rays

Has an X-ray technician ever had you stand on a circular platform and stand still for several seconds while the machine spun around your head? Then you’ve had a panoramic X-ray, which is the most common type of extraoral dental X-ray.

With these, we can see your entire mouth in one image, because the camera travels all the way around your head while taking the picture. These X-rays show incoming adult teeth and wisdom teeth, including any that are impacted, which is how we determine if there’s enough room for these teeth to come in and if they’ll come in on their own.   They are not the most diagnostic however, when it comes to detecting cavities or tooth infection.  Panoramic X-rays also make it much easier to detect things like tumors, cysts, and abscesses, as well as viewing your joints.

Glamor Shots: Bitewing X-Rays

As you might have guessed from the name, bitewing X-rays (aka “check-up xrays”) are the ones where the patient has to bite down on a piece of dental film before the image is taken. Because the dental film is inside your mouth, bitewing X-rays are a type of intraoral X-ray that are the most diagnostic to determine bone loss and cavities between back teeth.   Since the back teeth are the hardest to clean for most people, they tend to be most prone to cavities and gum infection, hence why bitewing xrays are typically taken about once a year.

Bitewing X-rays are taken to give us a clear view of the crevices between your teeth, which are difficult to see with the naked eye. With these images, we can easily check for tooth decay and cavities in those areas.

It’s Time For Your Close-Up: Periapical X-Rays

This intraoral X-ray is the close-up of the dental world. If a specific tooth or area in your mouth is bothering you, we’ll probably take a periapical X-ray to get a clear idea of what’s going on there, but they can also be taken alongside bitewing X-rays even if you aren’t aware of an obvious tooth problem.

For more information on dental X-rays and why they’re so important, watch the video below:

When You Need A Little Extra:  Cone-beam Computed Tomography (CBCT)

All the previously described dental x-rays are two-dimensional xrays, which for typical general dentistry, is plenty diagnostic and more than sufficient.  But there are occasions when having that 3rd dimension is paramount for proper diagnosis (i.e. implants, wisdom teeth, retreating root canals), and therefore proper treatment and treatment planning, and would require the CBCT.   The good news is that it’s easy and painless to take (much like panoramic xrays).  The downside is that there is a bit more exposure than other xrays (which is why taking them regularly for routine dentistry would be overtreatment) and often carry a higher price tag, as they are often not a covered procedure by insurance companies. That being said however, CBCTs are becoming more the standard of care.  The key is choosing a dental practitioner that knows when they are necessary.

Early Warnings For Healthier Smiles

All types of X-rays are simple, low-risk tools that help us catch dental problems early on, maybe before you’ve even noticed anything! However, in order for us to do that, it’s crucial that you come in for your regular cleanings and dental exams. Is your smile ready for its next close-up?

We’re so happy to have you as part of our practice family!

 

The content on this blog is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of qualified health providers with questions you may have regarding medical conditions.

 

Photo credit:  Top image used under CC0 Public Domain license. Image cropped and modified from original.