Did you know that archaeologists believe our prehistoric ancestors were the first people to floss between their teeth? The evidence of grooves in the remains of their teeth indicate that they cleaned them. It is believed that these people used horsehair as a type of floss to clean between their teeth.
Modern floss was first invented by an American dentist named Levi Spear Parmly. He is known as “the apostle of dental hygiene” for his efforts to promote interdental cleaning and for his book, A Practical Guide to the Management of Teeth. When he lived in New Orleans in 1815, he began to advocate flossing. Parmly told many of his patients to clean between their teeth using a waxed, silk thread. In his book, he spoke of the importance of daily brushing and flossing for maintaining good oral health.
Silk thread was used as the optimal flossing material until World War II. Silk became expensive, so Dr. Charles Bass created an alternative using nylon. The elasticity and durability of nylon floss meant that it was less likely to fray like silk floss often did. Thanks to the efforts of our ancient ancestors, Dr. Levi Spear Parmly, and Dr. Charles Bass, we now have an effective interdental cleaner which keeps our smiles strong and healthy.