Dental floss is considered a key element in proper oral hygiene. However, according to the ADA, only about 12 percent of Americans floss daily. The concept of flossing isn't a new idea at all and it's surprising that patients don't take it more seriously. In fact, discoveries made by researchers have suggested that cleaning between the teeth was practiced as early as the Prehistoric period. Although the earliest versions of floss were similar to what is found in stores today, there have been quite a few advancements in the design to help simplify the process and create a more comfortable experience.
Prehistory: The exact date of the first use of dental floss is unknown but researchers found evidence that floss existed in prehistoric times. Grooves from floss and toothpicks have been found in the mouths of prehistoric humans. It is suggested that horse hair was used as floss and twigs were used as toothpicks to dislodge anything from the teeth.
1815: American dentist, Dr. Levi Spear Parmly introduces the idea of using waxed silken thread as floss. Later in his career, he published a book, A Practical Guide to the Management of Teeth, which emphasized the importance of brushing and flossing daily.
1882: Unwaxed silk floss is mass-produced by the Codman and Shurleft Company.
1898: The first dental floss patent is granted to Johnson & Johnson.
1940s: Due to rising costs of silk during World War II and its tendency to shred, nylon replaces silk as the main material in floss. This development is credited to Dr. Charles Bass, who is also known for making floss and essential part of daily oral hygiene.
1980s: The first interdental brush is invented as an alternative to flossing.
Today: Floss has evolved a lot over time. Today we are seeing the use of Gore-Tex in some varieties, and the addition of spongy floss and soft floss for sensitive gums. Floss picks have also become quite popular and simplify the process of flossing posterior teeth and flossing around braces.
With the advancements that we have seen over time, what do you think is the next step in the evolution of dental floss?