History of dental flossDental floss was used by prehistoric humans. Grooves have been found in the teeth of prehistoric humans from dental floss and toothpicks.
The New Orleans dentist, Levi Spear Parmly (1790/1859) is credited with inventing modern dental floss. Parmly had been recommending that people should clean their teeth with silk floss since 1815.
Dental floss was still unavailable to the consumer until the Codman and Shurtleft company started producing human-usable unwaxed silk floss in 1882. In 1898, the Johnson & Johnson Corporation first patented dental floss. Some of the brands include Red Cross, Salter Sill Co. and Brunswick.
The adoption of floss was poor before World War II. It was around this time, however, that Dr. Charles C. Bass developed nylon floss. Nylon floss was found to be better than silk because of its greater abrasion resistance and elasticity, which helped prevent the floss from shredding.
After the Second World War the importance of flossing in order to thoroughly clean the teeth was highly stressed. Flossing is still believed to be the best method of removing plaque from the teeth, as brushing alone removes only about 70% of plaque.
The National Flossing Council in Washington, DC was organized in 1996 to promote the benefits of flossing. The NFC publishes an online Journal ("MouthWatch") and awarded the Floscar for the best use of floss in a motion picture.
The Canadian Dental Association advises that it is important to floss before brushing, and to floss once or more per day. The association also advises to wrap the floss around the tooth in a 'C' shape, and to wipe the tooth from under the gumline (gently) to the tip two or three times. Improper flossing may result in cavities. Studies have shown there is little difference in cleaning ability between cord and tape flosses. For someone just beginning to floss, some bleeding of the gums is normal.