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?


Commenter's Profile Image Dr. Ponnie Poisal
January 16th, 2013
I love these kind of stories and facts that I can share with my friends and fans on facebook, keep it up, can't wait to come back to AZ in May.
Commenter's Profile Image Manjitsingh Bhalla
October 7th, 2014
Oral hygiene is weighed much similarly the way we clean our teeth and floss them. An idea of area to be cleaned by brushing and flossing will tell you exactly how they work. Seemingly, brushes cannot reach the spaces where floss will, removing stuck filth all the way through – a formation of dental plaque can greatly be reduced by it, further avoiding dental problems like bone damage or loosening of teeth root. Amazing data of flossing; facts on prehistoric practices of flossing and dislodging debris from teeth are just awesome. (You know? One thing is very clear; when you see the history and relate it to flossing the teeth, it was all the time alive)….then why shouldn’t we now? Civilization honors a lot to humankind, doesn’t it!