When Did Flossing Become a Standard Practice?

Dental Implants in Chicago

Oral hygiene and health care. Smiling women use dental floss white healthy teeth.

When you see your dentist for preventive care, there is a good chance that he or she will spend part of your appointment talking to you about your flossing habits. Dentists recommend that people floss at least once per day in order to remove food and bacteria from the areas in between teeth that are hard to reach by brushing alone. If you don’t floss, this material can turn into plaque and then tartar, increasing your chances of tooth decay and gum disease. Flossing is an ingrained part of modern oral health care, but when did people first start to floss? Here’s a brief look at this progression of floss from new invention to standard practice.


Pre-Floss Flossing

For as long as people have been eating, they’ve been getting food stuck in their teeth. As such, the need for floss is timeless. Anthropologists who study ancient civilizations believe that flossing was a part of most societies—if not specifically for oral health purposes, then at least for practical purposes of removing food from between the teeth. Pointed sticks and strings of animal hair or fabric are thought to have been used as prehistoric dental floss implements.


Levi Spear Parmly

A New Orleans-based dentist, Levi Spear Parmly, gets the credit for introducing the modern idea of flossing. Around 1815, he suggested that patients use silk thread to clean between their teeth, and shops in the area started selling thread to fulfill this roll. In 1898, Johnson & Johnson took this idea national when they introduced dental floss made of silk thread that was commonly used in stitches to the national market.


Flossing Today

Over the years, floss has transitioned from silk to nylon and now can be found in a variety of different materials, including Gore-Tex. You can also find many different styles of floss, including soft floss, waxed and unwaxed floss, and specialty floss for use with braces.


Make sure your oral health is as good as it can be with a general dentistry appointment at University Associates in Dentistry. From cleanings to periodontics, we do it all. To schedule a dental consultation in Chicago, call (312) 704-5511.

Examining the History of Dental Floss

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When you reach for your dental floss—which should be at least once a day, as recommended by your dentist—you probably don’t spend much time thinking about the history of the product. However, food has been getting caught in teeth since people started eating, and humans have been looking for ways to clean between their teeth since then. Here is a quick look at the history of dental floss and how it has changed over the years.


Ancient Dental Floss

There is evidence that ancient people made rudimentary toothbrushes and dental floss, and that dental floss may have been around for longer than brushes. The first way that people performed interdental cleaning appears to have been similar to modern toothpicks. Sharpened sticks were used to dig in between teeth and clean those areas. Eventually, sticks gave way to horsehair. Horsehair is believed to have been used both as dental floss and as bristles for toothbrushes.


Silk Dental Floss

The first introduction of dental floss in its more familiar modern form came in 1815, when a dentist in New Orleans suggested that patients use a waxed thread of silk to floss. This thread could be easily obtained, since it was available on the market for sewing. Dr. Levi Parmly wrote a book on tooth care which suggested that people floss once per day. In 1882, unwaxed silk threads for dental use hit the market, and in 1898, Johnson & Johnson applied for a patent to mass-produce and market floss.


Modern Dental Floss

During World War II, silk because too expensive to use for floss. Dr. Charles Bass suggested nylon be used instead. Today, you can find floss made of a wide range of different materials, in both waxed and non-waxed varieties.


At University Associates in Dentistry, you’ll find only the latest advances in dental technologies, but our dentists still recommend that patients follow Dr. Parlmy’s advice to floss at least once a day. Make an appointment with a general dentist in Chicago by calling (312) 704-5511.

Can You Floss Your Dental Implants?

Dental Implants in Chicago

One of the advantages of dental implants is that you can care for them as you would your natural teeth. Unlike dentures, which have to be removed for cleaning, you can brush your dental implants just like your other teeth. One common question people have about implants has to do with flossing. Is flossing necessary—and safe—for a dental implant?


Flossing is an important part of your oral hygiene routine, and you shouldn’t skip your implant when you are flossing the rest of your teeth. There may be additional space between your implants and gums compared with your natural teeth, so be sure to get into that area with your floss. You can use regular floss or your dentist may recommend a special kind of floss that is easier to use with dental implants. This kind of floss is attached to a firm handle so that it is easy to get under the implants.


Your Chicago dentist at University Associates in Dentistry will help you learn how to keep your dental implants in top condition, so that they look and feel healthy. To find out more, call our practice today at (312) 704-5511.

A Brief Look at the History of Floss

Dental Implants in Chicago

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Have you ever wondered what ancient cavemen used to clean their teeth after snacking on a juicy tortoise? It turns out that their idea of dental floss was a pointy stick. Compare that to the soft, waxed floss available today, and you might suddenly discover that flossing isn’t such a chore, after all. It’s thought that modern dental floss has its roots in 1815, when a dentist in New Orleans told his patients to work a silk thread between their teeth to remove food debris.

Silken floss became popular, but it wasn’t until 1882 that the first commercial floss was developed, also from silk. Silk, which is made by a species of caterpillar, remained in use until the 1940s, when it was replaced with nylon. Today, you can find floss made from all sorts of materials—including Gore-Tex—and all different styles.

At University Associates in Dentistry, our dentists pride themselves on healthcare excellence and a personalized approach . Call (312) 704-5511 to request a general dentistry appointment in Chicago, and visit us online to check out our denture services.

What Are the Different Types of Dental Floss?

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Just as visiting the dentist should become a regular part of patients’ lives, so too should flossing. Flossing is a daily habit that should be done before or after brushing the teeth in the morning or evening.

As seen in this short video, there are several types of floss that patients can find at their local drugstore. These floss options may include waxed, unwaxed, flavored, flavor-free, and many more options. In the end, patients should test out different versions until they find their preferred floss type.

University Associates in Dentistry is made up of talented and knowledgeable dentists for the benefit of our patients. Whether patients require a specialist or a general dentist , they will receive the utmost care with their teeth implants, periodontal concerns, and so much more. Please call us at (312) 704-5511 to schedule a dental consultation in Chicago for more information.

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