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Dental floss is not a modern concept. People have been using it for a long time and it has been made of various substances. Today, you can choose from several kinds of dental floss at your local drugstore. The market has produced different types and styles from flavored, unflavored, waxed, unwaxed and more. All of them work well to remove plaque from the nooks and crannies of your teeth. Current dental floss is made from synthetic compounds either nylon or teflon, but what did they use before these?




There is not a dentist today that would recommend flossing with animal hair. It is not considered hygienic to put in your mouth. Although we have been using it through history for brushes, bristles and floss. Archaeologists say that our early ancestors may have used horsehair (from the tail) as dental floss.




A man named Levi Parmly, a dentist practicing in the early 1800s first promoted the idea of cleaning between the teeth with a waxed thread of silk. The Codman and Shurtleft company would then mass market this first type of dental floss starting in 1882. After Johnson & Johnson procured a patent for dental floss a few years later, they produced theirs made of the same kind of silk thread that physicians used for stitches.




When WWII broke out, silk soon became a valuable and costly item resulting in the creation of an elastic, nylon dental floss that was much more durable. Since nylon didn’t fray, it proved to be a superior flossing material, and is still in use today.


If you’d like more information, Dr. Aram Cazazian would be happy to answer your questions. Please contact Bayside Family Dentistry to make an appointment at: (718) 423-7009, or come by our office in Bayside, New York.