Most of us dread flossing. In fact, we dread flossing more than we dread brushing our teeth. Because even though brushing your teeth is a chore, it’s a chore that makes you feel infinitely better with clean, great-smelling breath and no gunk in your teeth. So where did the idea of dental floss come from? How did we go from, say, a twig to a tiny piece of string, in essence?

Cottonwood Park Dental in Richardson offers the best family dental care. We specialize in cosmetic dentistry services, preventative dentistry, and dental crowns. We offer a full range of oral health solutions designed to beautify and protect your teeth and smile. In this blog post, we’ll explore the history of dental floss. Contact us for your next dental cleaning appointment!


Dental floss is a thin thread that is sometimes flavored that is used in-between your teeth to remove food particles and plaque from your teeth. When you floss, you help to reduce the change of gingivitis, which is inflammation in your gums, halitosis, or bad breath, and cavities.


It’s unknown when people first started flossing, or picking, their teeth. Archaeologists have found skulls with teeth that show signs of flossing in prehistoric times. Probably since the dawn of time has flossing been around. In ancient times, twigs and perhaps horse hair was used.


Modern dental floss as we know it is credited to a New Orleans dentist named Levi Spear Parlmly in 1819. He wrote a book entitled A Practical Guide to the Management of the Teeth where he recommended that people use a waxed silk thread “to dislodge that irritating matter which no brush can remove, and which is the real source of disease.”

However, not many people engaged in the practice, preferring toothpicks instead, which have been around longer than dental floss. In fact the ancient Mesopotamians kept toothpicks made out of silver, bronze, and other metals. Cottonwood Park Dental in Richardson notes that the toothpick was the preferred method for oral hygiene in fact, and during the Middle Ages, Europeans even used toothpicks made from gold or silver carried around in a gold or silver case as a way to distinguish themselves from the poor.

The first patent for dental floss wasn’t even granted until 1874, and it wasn’t until 1882 that anything was produced. At that time, dental floss was made from silk. The fact of the matter is that people still did not pay much attention to their teeth and dentistry was basically still just a matter of pulling teeth when they became infected.


During World War II, silk costs began to rise so nylon soon replaced silk for dental floss. Dr. Charles Bass is credited with this switch and with making dental floss a part of our daily brushing routine.

Cottonwood Park Dental in Richardson notes that modern dental floss is still made of nylon, as well as some other types of materials. It can be waxed or non-waxed. It can also be made from Gore-Tex, added flavors, and different textures. Floss picks are also popular instead of the traditional floss where you wrap it around your fingers to use.

The American Dental Association recommends that you floss your teeth at least once per day in order to maintain good oral hygiene, help prevent plaque build up, which can cause cavities, and maintain healthy gums.


Cottonwood Park Dental offers the best general dentistry care in Richardson. From your regular cleanings to teeth whitening and periodontal care, we offer a wide variety of dental services for your needs. We work with most major dental providers, so your dental care can be covered by your dental insurance. However, should you need it, we offer flexible financing options for set terms for your more expensive dental procedures so you don’t have to wait till you have all the money to get a dental procedure taken care of. Our mission is to create and restore beautiful smiles and take care of the community around us. By brushing and flossing regularly and seeing your family dentist for preventative care, you’ll have healthy teeth for a lifetime. Contact us today for your next dentist appointment!