Ask the dentist – Is there a “history” of dental floss?

Ask The Dentist

Is there a “history” of dental floss?

Caries is nothing new, but in the 18th century a different kind of caries developed as a result of the sugar cane industry in the Americas.  Once sugar became a food additive, the nature of caries changed, and that’s when flossing became really important.  Flossing, or at least getting things unstuck from between teeth, is not new.  Marks from dental floss have been found in teeth of early pre-humans and indigenous populations in the Americas.  In 1815, a New Orleans dentist is credited with inventing silk floss, but it was a rare commodity.  In 1882, the Codman and Shurtleft Company began producing human-usable unwaxed silk floss.   The Johnson and Johnson Corporation received the first patent for dental floss in 1898.  During WW II soldiers were urged to floss, and as less expensive nylon floss replaced the more expensive silk, floss popularity grew.  Wax-coated floss was introduced in the 1940’s and the tape floss in the 1950’s.  Flavored flosses followed, along the super synthetics such as Gortex and Teflon the are being incorporated today.  Manufacturers have developed a variety of wands and handles to make flossing easier.  It wasn’t until the 1970’s that the public began to understand the importance of flossing as a means to control bacteria in the mouth.  So now that you know it’s history, get the floss out and start flossing!

Robin JungblutAsk the dentist – Is there a “history” of dental floss?