Dental Floss Tips and Tricks From South End Boston Dental Care 

Dental Floss Tips and Tricks From South End Boston Dental Care


Who Invented Dental Floss?

There are a number of odd creations in our history that have led to revolutions in the medical and dental industry. For example, it was the Mayan people of ancient Central America that first introduced to us the concept of setting an artificial tooth down into the bone, creating a permanent dental implant.

One of their skeletons revealed a young woman with a pair of tooth shaped shells in the front of her mouth that had bone growth around them, indicating that it was done while she was alive. Most ancient cultures used herbal remedies with bactericidal properties to treat various diseases and other herbs that served as analgesics and anesthetics that spawned the creation of commercial drugs that performed these services. The ancient Babylonian cultures were the first known to use the grandfather of the toothbrush, and it was prehistoric man that first introduced us to the concept of flossing between the teeth.

Ancient skeletons uncovered by scientists revealed individuals with picks in their mouth of an appropriate size and shape to be used to clean food from between the teeth. Whether this was due to an innate understanding that cleaning between the teeth would help them to stay healthier in a society that had not yet discovered the power of fluoride or if it was simply a matter of comfort (meat and plants stuck between the teeth are not exceptionally pleasant when one is going about their daily business) we’ll never know; however, this spawned a revolution in dentistry.

It was New Orleans dentist Levi Parmly who first began encouraging regular flossing to his patients. Obviously, dental floss back then was a bit different than that of today. Not having the technology that we take for granted at his disposal, Dr. Parmly encouraged his patients to use a piece of silk thread to clean their teeth. This was not always successful; although silk thread was the strongest they had available at the time (it was frequently used by medical professionals to stitch up wounds) it was still prone to breaking and splitting with use, particularly for individuals with sharp or closely spaced teeth.

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For this reason, it was not until after WWII and the discovery that nylon floss could be created by polymerizing a nylon salt and twisting the threads together, thereby creating a substance that was much stronger than regular thread, that flossing became popular among the general public. Unsurprisingly, it is Johnson and Johnson that holds the patent on the first commercially marketing nylon dental floss.

From there it has turned into a multi-billion dollar industry, with manufacturers constantly looking for ways to improve on a classic design. We therefore have flavored floss, waxed floss, Teflon floss, dental tape, floss threaders, flossers (which are exceptionally handy for children, who are not often amenable to fingers playing around in their mouth), and a variety of other related implements. Floss can be found in almost any store around the world, whether it be a grocery store, a pharmacy or a department store; however, regardless of how far it has come, the foundations behind the use of dental floss remain the same as they were when used by our ancestors millions of years ago.

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