Flossing: We’ve Been Doing This for Awhile

by Dr. Yasaman Garakani on December 14, 2016

The desire to clean the spaces between our teeth goes back for centuries. Evidence has been uncovered that in antiquity, rudimentary tools such as pointed sticks were used for flossing. Things got more elegant in the 1800s when a dentist in New Orleans told his patients to use silk thread to clean between their teeth.

Silk thread became a very popular flossing tool. By 1882, a company began selling unwaxed silk for flossing and by 1896, Johnson & Johnson, the large company that is still very popular today, patented their dental floss.

When the war make silk a luxury, nylon was introduced as a cost-effective substitute.  It was a happy turn of events when flossers realized that nylon was less prone to shredding and had a more efficient texture in addition to being easier to procure and cheaper to buy.

Flossing may seem like such a simple thing to do, and the floss itself appears unremarkable, but due to its important role in oral hygiene, floss is still being innovated today.

For example, polytetrafluorethylene floss takes advantage of GORE-TEX® technology.  GORE-TEX is created from membranes that have a micropourous structure. In fact, a square inch of GORE-TEX has 9 billion pores! It’s this amazing pore structure that makes GORE-TEX so light, durable and breathable while being resistant water and wind. Not only does that make the material excellent for outerwear, it makes it the perfect strand of shred-resistant floss to easily and comfortably slide between your teeth.

Texture really matters when it comes to flossing. While polytetrafluorethylene floss is excellent for normal or tightly spaced teeth, some people need something a little thicker that can clean around braces or bridges. That’s where super floss comes in.

It might sound like this type of floss wears a cape and flies through the window when regular floss just isn’t cutting it, but “super floss” actually refers to a floss made from yarn-like material. The ends of super floss are thickened to make it easier to slide around dental implements.

Another progressive floss is dental tape. This floss is used for people with wide spaces between their teeth because the tape comfortably cleans larger spaces better.

Despite all our innovations, there is something to be said for tradition. What’s the first thing you reach for after a good meal that has chicken or beef, or after you eat a bowl of popcorn? A toothpick! And what is a toothpick? It’s a pointed stick. Looks like our ancestors were on to something!

From sticks to high-tech membrane, flossing just keeps evolving, and that’s because we always knew, and continue to know, the importance of keeping those spaces between our teeth clean.

The Smile Dental Centre offers a full range of dental services backed by outstanding patient care for children and adults. The Smile Dental Centre won the Consumer Choice Award five years in a row (2013 – 2017) for general and cosmetic dentistry in the London, ON region. Now that’s something to smile about!

Smile Dental Centre

1350 Fanshawe Park Road W. Unit 2
London, Ontario, Canada
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