5 Things About Dental Floss

Flossing regularly is an important part of a good dental hygiene routine. When your brush can’t get the right leverage to remove the plaque and food particles hiding in tight spaces, floss slides right in and dislodges it. Then your brush, or a rinse of the mouth, easily sweeps it away, so it no longer poses a threat to your smile – all thanks to this simple string in a little box. But there’s more to this humble dental tool than you might realize.

  • Unique origins. The act of flossing is not a new one. Archaeological evidence shows markings on teeth in skulls from prehistoric times that are believed to be caused by flossing. However, credit for current flossing as we know it goes to a dentist named Levi Spear Parmly. In 1819, he suggested the concept in his book A Practical Guide to the Management of the Teeth. Even so, no one started paying attention until 63 years later.
  • Historical development. In 1882, the Codman and Shurtleft Company introduced an unwaxed dental floss made of silk, but the idea still wasn’t catching on. In the 1940’s, floss made of nylon thread was cheaper and became widely available. A few years later, a waxed version was sold. At that point, people finally picked up on flossing.
  • Great lengths. An estimated three million miles of dental floss is purchased in North America alone. However, once you use it, what do you do with it? Most dental floss cannot be recycled (although the containers are recyclable), so many people try to flush it. Please, throw it away in the trash and do not flush it! Stringy dental floss is prone to catch on something in the sewage system, leading to major clogs. You might also consider switching to earth-friendly, biodegradable dental floss.
  • Strength and durability. In 1994, Robert Dale Shepard made a rope from seven packs of dental floss. Using the braided floss rope, roughly about the width of a telephone cord, Robert pulled himself up and over his prison walls. But his escape was not as strong as the floss – he was caught 41 days later, and floss is no longer offered in the jail.
  • Incredible alternative uses. When camping, dental floss can be used as thread to sew up rips in tents, or as auxiliary fishing line. You might not have enough to keep a hammock off the ground, but it works great as a clothes line. If your shoe lace breaks, floss is a sturdy temporary replacement. And if you like irony, you can use dental floss to dislodge cookies from baking sheets. Since dental floss has the advantage of being kept sterile and clean in a small container, you can use it as twine for cooking meats, or as an emergency suture! Dental floss has enough versatility to make it into MacGyver’s toolkit.

Dental floss is sold nearly everywhere, is inexpensive, and clearly has many benefits. And now there are more varieties than ever before – waxed or unwaxed, mint or cinnamon flavors, nylon or Teflon, and so on. To find out what type is best for you, how to apply it properly, and when or how often to use it, contact the Placerville Dental Group. We’d love to answer all your questions on the benefits of dental floss.


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