Dental Blog

The Unknown History of Flossing

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

In celebration of National Flossing Day, the day after Thanksgiving, we want to share some interesting history about this very important part of your dental routine.

You may be surprised at how long flossing has been around.

  • Prehistoric times: Evidence of ancient floss and toothpicks has been discovered in the teeth of prehistoric humans. According to some, teeth cleaning may be one of the oldest human habits.
  • 1810s: Although there is archeological evidence that ancient humans used floss, it didn’t become popular until much later. In 1815, a New Orleans based dentist named Levi Spear Parmly published a book that advocated daily brushing and flossing with a piece of silk thread. He is widely credited as being the inventor of modern dental floss.
  • 1880s: Over 50 years after Dr. Parmly’s book, the first mass-produced floss hit the market. It was made of unwaxed silk floss.
  • 1890s: Johnson & Johnson got in on the floss game shortly after with their own brand of silk floss. They were also granted the first patent for dental floss.
  • 1940s: During World War II there was a shortage of silk, which lead to the invention of nylon dental floss. Nylon is still used to make floss today.