Flossing is a key to maintaining great oral health. Dental experts recommend flossing after you eat and when you brush your teeth. You might think flossing is a new thing, but it’s not.

When did the string become a thing?

The tooth floss that we know today was invented in 1819. Before that, people used many other objects to brush and dislodge food from their teeth. Everything changed in 1819. It was then that a New Orleans dentist Levi Spear Parmly published a book called A Practical Guide to the Management of the Teeth.

In his book, he recommended people use a waxed silk thread to dislodge food from between their teeth. Johnson & Johnson developed their line of dental floss in 1868. However, it wasn’t until 1874 that dental floss was patented.

Silk thread was often expensive and in World War II Japan cut the silk supply to the United States. It was during that time that Dr. Charles C. Bass began using nylon for dental floss. Nylon has a consistent texture and doesn’t shred as easily. In addition, it cost less. Nylon is still a popular form of fiber used in manufacturing dental floss. Today, dental floss is also made of materials like Teflon or Gore-Tex. Floss also comes in different varieties to suit personal preferences. Floss is flavored or unflavored and waxed or unwaxed.

Now that you know how much this string is a thing, you need to choose what type of floss you use. Remember, it’s always easy to make another choice when it comes to floss.

All about floss

There are two types of floss: multifilament and monofilament:

1. Multifilament is made of nylon or silk.

It is the common drug store brand you will find every day. It comes waxed or unwaxed and in a variety of flavors.

2. Monofilament is a newer floss product.

It is not made of nylon or silk, and it is much more durable. It is made of different kinds of rubber and plastic. This new type still comes in various flavors. However, because it glides through your teeth, it doesn’t need to be waxed.

How to use floss

Using floss instead of makeshift tools is important! The “halls of horror” of what people have used in place of dental flossing include: fingernails, card stock or rigid thick paper, cutlery, safety pins, strands of hair, twigs, matchbooks, pocketknives, and screw drivers. That is enough to lose your appetite and perhaps even chip a tooth!

Now that you have the appropriate flossing tool, you are ready to do the deed. Here are the simple steps to properly use dental floss:

  • Wind – Wind 18 inches of floss around the middle finger or the index finger of one hand and the middle finger or the index finger of the other hand. Leave one to two inches extra and floss in between your upper and lower teeth.
  • Guide – Use your fingers to guide between the teeth. It does not matter whether you begin with your lower or upper teeth, just so you floss in between all of them.
  • Glide – Glide gently between your teeth.
  • Slide – Slide floss up and down the tooth surface to make sure you scrape away food and bacteria.
  • Remove the floss carefully after use and discard.

Other flossing tools

Like most products in the modern world, there are different kinds of flossers for more precision. Consider another strategy if handling dental floss makes you feel like you are all thumbs.

Handheld Flosser

A handheld flosser gives you a better grip and they are convenient and affordable.

Electric Flosser

Use the same gentle technique with an electric flosser.

Individual Floss Picks

For some, flossing is an awkward task.

Orthodontia floss

For dental work, orthodontia floss is a stronger option.

The oral hygiene sequence

Many people don’t appreciate how important flossing is in your daily brushing routine.

Dentists and hygienists advise to floss first then brush your teeth. Flossing before you brush your teeth helps capture extra particles of food and debris. It can also help promote healthy gums.

It’s not a hard and fast rule to floss first, so flossing after brushing your teeth is not prohibited. The important thing to remember is to floss daily! Be sure to floss consistently and gently. If flossing causes pain, make an appointment with the dentist for a cleaning and the problems with your teeth and gums.

Call Danville Family Dentistry at 317-745-4400 to make an appointment or visit us on our website to request an appointment. We can answer all your questions about flossing and why it is important. We look forward to seeing you!

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Disclaimer: The information included in this article is for educational purposes only. It should not be used as a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.