The Curious History of Dental Floss

January 27, 2016 11:00 am Published by

Cleaning between the teeth isn’t a brand new idea. In fact, archaeologists have discovered that Neanderthals used toothpicks over 60,000 years ago. Toothpick usage had become so popular in Victorian England, that gentlemen of that era had custom-made picks of ivory and gold. It wasn’t until one pioneering dentist in New Orleans came up with the idea of using silk thread, did the history of dental floss begin.


Dr. Levi Spear Parmly introduced waxed silk thread to his patients during a time when dental hygiene wasn’t a top priority. Worried about his patients’ teeth, he wrote A Practical Guide to the Management of Teeth which stressed how important it was to brush and floss.


Floss became commercially available when a Massachusetts medical company called Codman and Shurtleff began mass production of unwaxed silk dental floss.


Thanks to a surplus of silk used for surgical sutures, Johnson and Johnson got into the dental game and in 1896, the company was granted the first patent for dental floss. Johnson and Johnson marketed floss extensively in pharmacies and practically revolutionized floss’s packaging by including a built-in cutter inside of the case.


Dr. Charles C. Bass, considered “The Father of Preventative Dentistry,” developed nylon floss after silk became a precious commodity during WWII. Nylon became a popular replacement due to its elasticity and its resistance of shredding during use.


These days, there is a wide variety of floss for practically everyone’s needs. This includes biodegradable silk floss for those who are eco-friendly as well as Water Piks that clean between the teeth using jets of pulsating water.

Flossing has become crucial in maintaining oral health. Along with regular brushing, flossing will not only give you healthier gums and teeth, it will also help give you a brighter smile.

Make sure your smile lasts a lifetime by flossing daily and brushing at least twice a day. Also, don’t forget your twice a year dental check-ups and cleanings to ensure your gums and teeth stay healthy. To schedule an appointment at Dental Solutions of Avon, please give us a call or contact us by using our online form. Get your smile bright, beautiful and healthy by making an appointment today.