Your dentist tells you to blush and floss every day. While you may reach for the floss when you get something stuck between your teeth, fewer than ten percent of us actually heed their dentist’s advice and floss faithfully after every brushing, according to the American Dental Association (ADA). That doesn’t stop the experts from getting the word out about the importance of flossing though.
The fact is, no matter how well you brush, plenty of gunk is left behind, and the only way to get into those nooks and crannies is to floss between your teeth. Otherwise, the bacteria and debris left there will harden into plaque, setting you up for all kinds of dental health problems including inflammation, infection, and yes, cavities!
How Much Do You Know About Dental Floss?
While flossing is an important part of your daily oral hygiene routine, have you ever wondered whose bright idea it was to run a thread between your teeth to safeguard them against cavities? The history of dental floss dates back longer than you may think. According to many archeological reports, people have been looking for ways to get things unstuck for centuries. It is believed that even prehistoric humans used sticks and horsehair to get food and debris unstuck from between their teeth.
Still, floss, as we know it today, didn’t appear until the 1800s. It was at that time that modern dentistry was in its infancy. In the early part of 19th century, a dentist named Levi Spear Parmly wrote a book called The Practical Guide to the Management of Teeth for his New Orleans’s patients, outlining ways to prevent disease by caring for your teeth. Suspecting that bacteria in the mouth could be causing people to get sick, Dr. Parmly clearly showed in his book ways to better care for the teeth, including instructions on running a silk thread between the teeth after brushing to loosen leftover debris and clearing the mouth of unsavory germs.
Although the results were good, few people took Dr. Parmly’s advice; one because few people back then didn’t understand much about germs and bacteria and two, because silk thread was so expensive. While the first dental floss was patented and manufactured in 1882 by medical equipment company named Codman and Shurtleff, floss did not become used widely until WWII when nylon replaced silk in its manufacturing, which made the cost of floss more reasonable for the masses. In the years since, dental floss has become big business, bringing in $2 billion a year globally.
Fun Facts About Flossing
Few people enjoy flossing. Let’s face it — the chore can be tedious and boring. But that doesn’t mean it isn’t interesting. The next time you consider skipping this important step in your daily oral hygiene routine, remember these fun facts:
- If all of the dental floss sold in the United States each year were placed end to end, it would stretch over three million miles!
- The plaque that dental floss removes from your teeth and gums contains as many as 300 different species of bacteria — Yuck!
- Enamel may be the toughest substance in the body, but the tiny bacteria found in the mouth can destroy it.
- Using dental floss every day does ward off heart disease
Make Flossing Fun for Little Ones
Flossing is an important skill that children must learn from an early age. Need help getting your kids to floss? The skilled team at Wright Smiles Pediatric Dentistry offer these tips for parents:
- Make a game of flossing
- Offer small rewards for a job well done
- Let your kids pick their own flossing supplies
- Join in the routine – floss together
Remember, daily flossing is important for the whole family, but so are regular dental exams, be sure to schedule your child’s next exam by calling Wright Smiles Pediatric Dentistry today!