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Horse Hair? Your Dentist Discusses the Strange History of Dental Floss

February 8, 2018

Filed under: Uncategorized — dr_clemens @ 6:58 pm

mother and son flossingToday, if you want to floss your teeth (which you should do once a day), all you have to do is make a quick trip to the nearest grocery store and pick up some of that wonderful string that cleans between your teeth. It hasn’t always been that easy, though. The idea of flossing has been around for a long time, but it has certainly made significant advancements in the past couple hundred years. Your dentist near Roswell more about the background of this remarkable dental tool.

Horse Hair? Yep, Horse Hair

The idea of using an animal’s hair to clean between the teeth might seem bizarre or unsanitary to modern folks, but our ancestors didn’t have all the little creature comforts that make life so easy today. They had to use whatever was at their disposal to clean between their teeth. Evidence suggests that our prehistoric forebears used horse hair to keep their smiles as healthy as they could. They may have also used twigs as toothpicks to dislodge food that got stuck in the tight spaces in their mouths.

Floss took a big leap forward in 1815, when American dentist Levi Parmly advocated the idea of using waxed silk to clean between the teeth. He even published a book that emphasized the importance of flossing. Over a hundred years later, the rising cost of silk during World War II caused nylon to become the primary thread used in floss.

Today, you can still buy run of the mill nylon floss, and many dentists believe that this basic tool is all you need to clean between your teeth. In fact, it’s more effective than water flossers and quite a bit more affordable.

Does Your Family Floss?

Sadly, despite floss being such a simple invention, most people don’t use it like they should. Some folks don’t floss simply because they never got into the habit. If you’re one of those people, why not make an effort to change your ways — starting today? By flossing every day, you can do wonders for your teeth, preventing cavities and maintaining healthy gums.

Your children will benefit from your example as well. February is the perfect time to make a family effort to floss because it is National Children’s Dental Health Month, when parents are encouraged to focus on teaching their young ones about good oral health habits.

To help your child become enthusiastic about taking care of their teeth, try the following:

  • Take them to visit a children’s dentist near Roswell who will put them at ease and talk to them about the importance of flossing and other aspects of oral hygiene.
  • Show them photos of videos that illustrate the sad consequences that come about when people neglect flossing and brushing.
  • Make oral hygiene fun. You can get them some floss with a fun flavor and a cool toothbrush. Before you know it, they might end up reminding you about the importance of keeping a clean mouth.

Aren’t you glad you don’t have to use horse hair to floss your teeth? We sure are!

About the Dentist

Dr. Caitlin Merck is your friendly “dentist near me” in the Roswell area. If you want some tips on how you and your family can floss properly, or if it’s just time for a checkup, please contact us at 770-587-5655.

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