When Did We Start Dental
I am sure you may have heard from your dentist or the dental hygienist how important daily flossing is in fighting dental disease. There are so many gadgets today that simulate or try to take the place of flossing but they just don’t come
close to removing plaque between your teeth. I was reading this article on how
this flossing thing got started and wanted to share it with patch readers. The
following is an excerpt from this N.Y. Times article.
By PAGAN KENNEDY
A version of this article appeared in print on
October 21, 2012, of the Sunday Magazine with the headline: Who Made That
Who Made That Dental Floss?
In the early 1800s, a pioneering dentist, Levi Spear Parmly urged patients to clean between their teeth with silk thread — a revolutionary technique that could
protect the gum line and prevent tooth decay. But “people just didn’t get it,”
says Dr. Scott Swank, curator of the National Museum of Dentistry. In an era
during which rotting molars were the norm, he says, “people expected their
teeth to fall out.”
The Victorians also loved their toothpicks. After dinner, a gentleman would produce a leather box, reach into its velvet-lined interior, withdraw his gold pick and begin grooming. Charles Dickens owned a toothpick inlaid with ivory and
engraved with his initials; it retracted into its own handle like a tiny
spyglass. Flossing might have been more effective, but how could it compete
with the flash of the toothpick? Back then, silk thread came in unwieldy spools
and had to be cut into lengths with a knife. Worse, using it required you to
put your fingers into your mouth.
In the 1870s, Asahel Shurtleff helped to civilize floss when he patented the first
dispenser: a bobbin of thread with a U-shaped prong sticking out of its side.
The prong worked like a tiny metal hand, guiding floss between the teeth. His
invention anticipated the portable floss holders you can now buy in drugstores.
Designers have since given us bubble-gum-flavored floss, Gore-Tex strands and
tooth-shaped dispensers — all in an attempt to make flossing seem fun or at
least not too difficult. Recent studies, meanwhile, have revealed that flossing
might be one of the simplest ways to ward off tooth decay. Yet, Swank says:
“People still don’t care. Or they don’t want to put their hands in their
mouths.” Two centuries on, flossing remains the quintessential thing that we
forget — and hate — to do.
If you want to learn our easy technique on flossing, visit our website and watch
me floss my teeth in less then one minute. It is easy, efficient and effective. Go to drmeulener.com and click “The One Minute Flossing Technique” at the bottom of the page towatch this video. Try it, it’s good for you.
If you have any other questions please contact me and I will be happy to answer them promptly.
Carlos Meulener, DMD PA
4 Parker Ave.
Little Silver, NJ 07739
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