By Wilmington Dental Associates
October 10, 2014
Category: Oral Health
Tags: Untagged

Why Flossing is so Important

The world has not always placed significant emphasis on dental health, and the invention of dental floss seems to prove it. While ancient civilizations up to American settlers had used various implements to clean between teeth, dental floss did not come about until 1815. New Orleans dentist Dr. Levi Spear Parmly instructed his patients to use silk thread to clean between their teeth. However, people of this era preferredFlossing using a toothpick to ferret out hard-to-reach tooth materials. And although they accepted the idea that their teeth may fall out, the idea of putting their fingers in their mouths to floss was considered to be too gross.
A few decades later, dental floss pioneer Asahel Shurtleft created a floss dispenser from a spool of thread that fed new lines of floss to a U-shaped prong. This device looked much like today’s disposable “flossers” purchased at the grocery or drugstore. Shurtleft’s Massachusetts-based company manufactured this first dental floss. A few years later, in 1896, the Johnson & Johnson company began making its own floss and ultimately patented a special kind of silk floss thread doctors had previously used for stitches.
While the silk floss worked to clean between teeth, it was subject to unraveling and didn’t always slide smoothly between the gums. As a result, waxed floss was manufactured in the 1940s and billed as an improvement over traditional silk options. Nylon thread also replaced silk as silk was considered too expensive during World War II.
Today’s floss materials are created to be even stronger than its predecessors. For example, Gore-Tex material that is known for its durability and strength has been used. Floss has also undergone several flavor makeovers and can be flavored to have a mint or bubblegum taste.
Whatever the innovation, flossing often remains the important dental intervention many of our Wilmington Family Dentistry patients forget or don’t feel they have time to do. Flossing does not have to take long, and if done well, can prevent a large portion of common dental conditions that occur due to bacterial buildup in between the teeth. You should floss at least once per day to reap the benefits of this tooth-saving intervention.
For more information on flossing tips or to make an appointment at Wilmington Dental Associates, a family dentistry practice in Wilmington, please call (302) 654-6915.


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