Flossing Through the Ages

Who invented floss? What was used before floss? What materials have been used to make floss? Keep reading to find the answers to these questions and more.

Who invented floss?

Dr. Levi Spear Parmly has been credited with the invention of floss in 1815. While practicing dentistry in New Orleans, he began to tell his patients to use a thin silk thread to clean between their teeth. 67 years later in 1882, the Codman and Shurtleft Company began to first mass-produce floss.

What was used before floss?

The primitive version of floss was actually a toothpick. This has been used to clean teeth from prehistory to modern times. The ancient Chinese actually had a bronze pendant specifically used to clean teeth, and their government once enforced toothpick use as a law because the members of the army had such bad breath.

What materials have been used to make floss?

In prehistory, some peoples did use a version of floss that they made from horse hairs. When Dr. Parmly created floss, he used silk. Silk was the flossing medium for over a hundred years until World War II, when it became a rare commodity. At this time, Dr. Charles Bass created the nylon version of floss that we use today.