What Did People Use Before Dental Floss?

Man flossing with dental floss

Since the dawn of time, humans have been pretty resourceful in the discovery of tools for self-care. Before modern toothbrushes were invented, humans would use “chewsticks” to clean their teeth, which were essentially twigs from a tree with a sharpened point at the end to get in between the teeth. In fact, this method of tooth cleaning is so effective, chewsticks are still used in many parts of the world, namely India, Africa, and the Middle East.

But what about dental floss? How did we use to floss our teeth?

Horse’s hair!

Prior to the invention of dental floss, hair from a horse’s tail was used for flossing. It would appear that horsehair was strong and coarse enough in texture to sufficiently reach in between the teeth and gums to remove debris and plaque. 

Apparently, ancient human remains were found with grooves worn between their teeth suggesting the regular use of floss and toothpicks. Researchers believe that horsehair and twigs were the most common dental tools used.

A Brief History of Dental Floss

  • Prehistory: The exact date humans started to floss is unknown, however, as we mentioned earlier, archeologists discovered grooves worn between the teeth of prehistoric humans. Most research suggests that horsehair and twigs were commonly used to clean between the teeth.
  • 1815: American dentist, Levi Spear Parmly, introduces the idea of using waxed silk thread for flossing. He then went on to publish A Practical Guide to the Management of the Teeth, which highlighted the importance of brushing and flossing daily.
  • 1882: Unwaxed silk floss was mass-produced by the Codman and Shurtleff Company to be used expressly as dental floss.
  • 1898: The first dental floss patent is granted to a company many people will be familiar with—Johnson & Johnson.
  • 1940’s: Due to the rising cost of silk during World War II, it became difficult for companies to acquire it for floss. Nylon was then used instead of silk. This innovation is usually credited to Dr. Charles Bass, another researcher who was noted for making flossing an essential part of daily oral hygiene.
  • The 80s: The first interdental toothbrush was developed in order to make flossing easier. Still today, people use it to clean hard-to-reach areas of their mouth.
  • Present-day: As you can imagine, floss has changed quite a bit since the days of using animal hair! Now, there are many varieties of floss in addition to other interdental cleaners that are easily available at just about any drug store, grocery store or online.

The importance of flossing

We cannot stress enough how essential flossing is as part of your daily oral hygiene. 

Simply put, flossing gets to the parts of the tooth that your toothbrush can’t get to. Flossing isn’t just about removing tiny particles of food between the teeth on which bacteria can feed. The main function of flossing is for mechanically scraping microscopic clusters of plaque-producing bacteria from the surface of the tooth before it has a chance to form into hard calcified tartar, which will then begin to cement onto the lower parts of the tooth near the gums.

Take a look at our blog, “To Floss or Not To Floss,” which goes through the “Do’s” and “Don’t’s” of flossing and how to get the best out of your flossing technique. 

Good-Gums Powder

Don’t forget to floss using Good-Gums

Using floss to break up plaque can be complemented by using natural ingredients that are easily absorbed by the gums. Good-Gums all-natural tooth and gum powder uses completely natural ingredients that help massively with the break down of plaque and provides critical minerals essential for building strong tooth enamel and keeping your gums healthy.

We advise not brushing with toothpaste before using Good-Gums due to the film of residue it leaves behind, which acts as a barrier to the natural ingredients being absorbed into your gums. This prevents your gums from receiving vital nutrients.

Check out our “Ways To Use” section on our website, which will give you the best tips on how to floss using Good-Gums. 

Click here to try our herbal formula.

Choose How to Buy Good-Gums

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