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Did you know that materials from horse hair to silk were used to floss teeth? Did you know that in China it was once a law to clean your teeth? Did you know that low supplies of silk during World War II resulted in the creation of the floss we use today? Keep reading to learn more about flossing through the ages.


It has been found that our ancient ancestors kept up on their oral hygiene. They cleaned their teeth using toothpicks made of twigs and floss made of horsehair.

3,500 B.C.

For much of ancient times, toothpicks were the primitive form of interdental cleaning instead of floss. In ancient China, a curved bronze pendant was used to clean teeth. In 536 B.C. China actually established a law commanding citizens to use a toothpick because the army had such bad breath.


Dr. Levi Spear Parmly is credited for inventing the first modern floss. In his practice in New Orleans, he began recommending cleaning between the teeth by using a silk thread.


An unwaxed silk floss was first mass produced by the Codman and Shurtleft Company. In 1898, the Johnson & Johnson Company took out the first patent for floss and used the same material doctors used for stitches.


World War II resulted in a low supply of silk, the same silk that was used as dental floss. Luckily, Dr. Charles Bass created a floss made from nylon, which proved to be a more efficient flossing material than silk.