Dental Floss Throughout History

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Did you know that it is the 200th birthday of the invention of modern floss this year? Floss is imperative in maintaining oral health, and it also has an interesting history too. Learn more about the invention of floss below.

Before Floss Invention

Before floss, what did people use to clean between their teeth? Evidence shows that some prehistoric peoples used horse hair for floss, but most used a toothpick to clean their teeth. Actually, China passed a law in 536 B. C. demanding that its citizens use toothpicks because the soldiers in the army had very bad breath.

Floss Invention

The invention of modern floss is credited to New Orleans dentist Levi Spear Parmly in 1815. He began to tell his patients to use a silk thread to clean between their teeth. Dental floss would later be mass-produced in 1882 by the Codman and Shurtleft Company.

After Floss Invention

The Johnson & Johnson Company would take the first patent for floss in 1898 and become a major producer of it. However, floss hit a stumbling block during World War II because of the low supply of silk. But Charles Bass would bring floss back into action by inventing a nylon version of it that proved to be a better cleaner than silk.