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Feature #140 > May 23rd, 2013 Journal Entry


Levi Spear Parmly, a dentist from New Orleans, is credited with inventing the first form of dental floss. He recommended that people should clean their teeth with silk floss in 1815.2

Dental floss was still unavailable to the consumer until the Codman and Shurtleft company started producing human-usable unwaxed silk floss in 1882. In 1898, the Johnson & Johnson Corporation received the first patent for dental floss. Other early brands included Red Cross, Salter Sill Co. and Brunswick.

A character is depicted using dental floss in James Joyce’s famous novel Ulysses (serialised 1918-1920) and is an early mention of the practice in literary fiction.

The adoption of floss was poor before World War II. It was around this time, however, that Dr. Charles C. Bass developed nylon floss. Nylon floss was found to be better than silk because of its greater abrasion resistance and elasticity. In response to environmental concerns, dental floss made from biodegradable materials is now available.

Dentists and dental hygienists urge the daily oral hygiene regimen of toothbrushing and flossing. Nearly all Americans brush their teeth. However, studies have found that only 10% to 40% of Americans report flossing on a daily basis.Read more

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