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.

Make Flossing A Priority For Your Child

IS FLOSSING A PART of your child’s oral hygiene routine? Daily flossing is just as important for a child’s dental health as it is for an adult’s. As parents, you play a major role in helping your children learn to floss correctly and understand its importance from a young age.

Remember, Baby Teeth Matter

Flossing should begin as soon as your child has two teeth that touch. By starting regular flossing early, your child will get used to the daily task and will be more likely to incorporate it into their own oral healthcare routine later in life. As flossing requires a certain amount of manual dexterity, children will need parents’ help and supervision until about age 10 or 11.

Unfortunately, because baby teeth eventually fall out, many parents underestimate their importance and may neglect flossing. Even though they are temporary, baby teeth are essential to a child’s growth and development. They aid in chewing, promote proper speech development and reserve a space for permanent teeth to grow in. Daily flossing will keep your child’s smile healthy and protect it from tooth decay!

Choose The Right Floss For Your Child’s Smile

Every smile is unique and may require different types of care. Learning what floss can benefit your child’s specific needs can make flossing their teeth easier and more effective. Here are different kinds of floss and how they may work best for your child:

  • Waxed floss: If your child’s teeth fit tightly together or are more crowded, waxed floss is for you. It is generally thinner and easier to glide between tighter-fitting teeth.
  • Dental tape: This is a wider, flatter type of floss that is designed to be gentle on exposed gums. If your child has gaps in their teeth, we recommend using dental tape.
  • Ultra Floss: Some children have varied spacing between their teeth. Ultra floss is wide enough to comfortably clean between gaps but can also stretch thin enough to clean between teeth that are close together.
  • Floss threader: Orthodontic appliances such as braces can make flossing extra difficult. The floss threader is designed to get into the nooks and crannies between teeth and around braces.
  • Pre-threaded Floss Pick: Many parents report that floss picks are easier to use on their children because of the convenient handle. They often come in different colors and can be fun for a child to pick out for themselves and be more involved.

No matter which floss you choose, the most important thing is to floss your child’s teeth on a daily basis! Call us or come into our office to discuss which type of floss may be best for your child. We will teach you how to floss your child’s teeth correctly as well as provide tips to make it easier.

A Lifetime Of Good Oral Hygiene Starts Early

When you don’t floss your child’s teeth, you miss cleaning 35 percentof tooth surfaces in their mouth. Flossing completes brushing by cleaning the hard-to-reach spaces between teeth that a toothbrush can’t. By brushing and flossing your child’s teeth on a daily basis, you ensure that their smile stays cavity-free and help put them on the path of good oral hygiene for a lifetime!

We love caring for your child’s smile!

 

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.