1001 Uses For Dental Floss #35- A Weird Oral Hygiene Device

The weirdest oral hygiene aid I’ve come across to date is the Blizzident™ system, which uses a customized appliance which fits over the teeth in both arches, top and bottom, and incorporates rubbery bristles (800 of them) set at a 45˚ angle to the teeth. It is claimed to clean the teeth completely in 6 seconds and is activated by normal chewing while wearing it. By stringing floss across a set of indentations along the edge of the appliance, the teeth will automatically be flossed (again, presumably, in 6 seconds). A tongue scraper with bristles is also part of the apparatus, so, if you’re in a hurry with your brushing, and believe in this item’s efficacy, you can have one made for your mouth.

I’ve included an image from the Blizzident website to try to clarify what it’s all about. I won’t say what I think of this, since I haven’t tried it and don’t plan to, but I have a personal preference for simplicity in most things. I like the traditional, conventional approach to oral hygiene.

After paying for initial impression fee of about $75 (conventional impressions) or $200 (optical 3D scan) you can have the lab make one for $300, more or less. It should last about 1 year. Replacement after a year costs between $90 (refurbishment) and $160 (brand new) and the delivery time is about 16 weeks (I guess it takes time to position all those bristles just right).

So if you’re in a rush to brush and have only 6 seconds to spare for your oral hygiene, I hope you can wait 4 months to get this item. Maybe you should hurry up and slow down.


1001 Uses For Dental Floss #32- Surviving The Apocalypse

Dr Strangelove, greatest conspiracy theory comedy film ever.

The world is coming to an end. The asteroid is about to crash into our planet, zombies are everywhere, the second coming is coming, and the Russians are invading. You’ve decided to run away into the deep woods and survive there and be the last outpost of civilization as we know it.

So, what to bring that might may make things better for you? Dental floss, of course. A number of websites devoted to post-apocalyptic survivalists list floss among the items that any good conspiracy theorist should have in their Humvee before they take off from the suburbs.

Floss can be used for fishing line, to make a miniature bow and tie points to the arrows, tie a splint around a broken leg because it’s so very strong. It can tie down a tent flap, make a snare to catch small animals for food (if you’re not a vegetarian), tie it to two handles and using saw-like motions, cut through meat (cooked is easier), cheese, and other foods. And if you’ve got enough, and are good at macramé, you might be able to weave a web out of it to make a bag for carrying things. So be sure to get to your pharmacy or dollar store and buy up their whole supply. You never know when there won’t be any more around.

For the funniest article I’ve seen about floss and the Big Conspiracy, go to:


1001 Uses For Dental Floss #31- The Grand Unified Field Theory and Dental Floss

Starry Night by Vincent van Gogh

In a fascinating article in New Scientist (well, I find it fascinating), http://www.newscientist.com/article/dn19043-aspirin-and-dental-floss-homespun-highenergy-physics.html#, pretty everyday things are being used as part of various cutting-edge physics experiments at labs like Fermilab on the French-Swiss border, the Large Hadron Collider near Geneva, Switzerland, and the National Institute of Radiological Sciences in Tokyo, Japan in experiments to test the limits of space, time, energy, and matter.

Reminding us of the Steven Spielberg film E.T., where a cute little alien stranded on Earth was trying to build a device to “call home”, and put together various “borrowed” objects to that end, our planet’s scientists are using ordinary items, which include aspirin tablets, recycled plastic bottles, fishing line, aluminum foil, Japanese konnyaku noodles, model airplane servomotors, stockpots, and even a coffin. Simply amazing! And one of these items is–you guessed it–dental floss, which is used to tie down very fine wires to keep progressively colder layers from touching and so absorbing heat in the Cryogenic Dark Matter Search detector in Minnesota, to keep its core at one degree above absolute zero (as cold as things can ever get).

You won’t ever try this at home, so no warning is necessary, but if an alien ever knocks on your door one night and asks for some dental floss, you’ll know why. I suggest you give it to him (or her).

1001 Uses For Dental Floss #30- Cats and Floss

Pets can take a toll on you, especially when they get sick. This is the story of Stanley, the cat, who lives with its “parents” in Philadelphia, PA, back in 2002. It seems that this 5-year-old cat became very ill one evening, throwing up numerous times, as cats sometimes do. In this case, though, the vomiting continued on and on, late into the night, so that by midnight the decision was made to bring Stanley to a pet hospital. There, an x-ray ($500) revealed nothing, and he was sent home. The next day, at Stanley’s regular veterinarian, who noticed the cat’s intestines were beginning to “accordion”, not a term I’m familiar with, but a fairly graphic description that, with some imagination, you can probably visualize.
Afraid that this would lead to perforation and imminent death, surgery was ordered ($1600). What came out was a 2-foot length of dental floss that Stanley had somehow swallowed.
Did he think it was a long version of cat hair? We tried to interview him, but he wasn’t talking–probably too embarrassed. The owners had been dropping their used floss in the bathroom garbage can, which is, if you remember, a good way of keeping it from clogging the sewage pipes if it’s flushed away, as happened in Toronto (see Use # 12- April 17, 2014).
So this misadventure with floss cost this family $2100 (apparently equivalent to $3400 in today’s dollars, or about $5 million dollars in Canadian funds). And pet health insurance isn’t covered by Obamacare, as it is in Canada.
At this very moment, then, the residents of Philadelphia are waiting for their sewage system to collapse, as the habit of flushing floss spreads through that city. (Say “flushing floss” 10 times quickly for more fun).

1001 Uses For Dental Floss #29- Flossing While Driving

So you thought texting and driving was a dangerous mix. This story would probably strike most of us as a not very endearing use for floss, even gruesome, but this is a pretty intricate story.

A man driving his Toyota Prius along the superhighway in Connecticut was killed in a
bizarre and gruesome accident, or so it seemed (to be an accident, that is). According to the police report, the man was flossing his teeth with a floss pick while driving. It seems his car was rear-ended by a large pickup truck, causing the airbags to deploy. The force of impact between the airbag and the dental pick apparently drove the dental hygiene tool through his tissues into his skull, killing him.

Stop right now, you’re screaming, I don’t want to hear any more. But you do, don’t you?

The deceased seems to have had two passions in life, the environment (hence the Prius, which requires very little gas to run), and oral hygiene, to the point of being a compulsive flosser (like spending a large part of his waking time actively flossing his teeth). And guess who resented not being included in love triangle? His former girlfriend. She seems to have developed quite a resentment at being second fiddle to a bit of floss. And guess who was driving the pickup truck that rammed into the deceased’s car? It was this woman.

It seems, according to a police spokeman, that she knew his habits, knew he would be flossing while driving, and deliberately rammed him hard enough to kill him. THe report doesn’t say whether there was enough evidence to arrest and try the girlfriend, so maybe not, so we’re left wondering: Did this really happen?

If this was a game of Clue, would it be the former girlfriend in the pickup truck with the floss?

And the morals of this sad tale? Don’t floss and drive. Don’t floss so much that you drive love out of your life. And don’t floss so much that the love of your life drives the floss into you.

1001 Uses For Dental Floss #27- Civic Engagement

Photo by Harry Rajchgot

Kudos to the City of Cote St. Luc (Quebec, Canada) which today handed out hundreds of free tomato plants to its enthusiastic citizens as its way of encouraging city farmers to raise home-grown food in their own backyards and the city’s garden plots. Fresh, tasty and nutritious fare mere footsteps from the back door; who can ask for better?

And how can you support a tomato plant and keep it from falling or being knocked over by a gust of wind or the neighbour’s cat? Dental floss, of course (see photo). Another useful use and a small part in citizens’ civic engagement in the vitality of their neighbourhoods.

1001 Uses For Dental Floss #26- Floss Guitar

So after all that religion in #25, let’s lighten up a bit with this simple and entertaining video by Euan Dobson, showing us how he strings a classical guitar with dental floss. Listen to how beautiful it sounds. Cool!


1001 Uses For Dental Floss #25: Oral Hygiene And Religion

Religion and Oral Hygiene

I know I’m going to get into trouble with someone here. Although it’s said that we shouldn’t discuss religion, sex, or politics over dinner, is that admonition still true in front of the bathroom mirror? Doing a study of comparative religion based on differences in attitudes to oral hygiene may not say much about those religions in general, or perhaps may be instructive of differences in world views and attitudes. Well, here goes. Please don’t take offence.

1. Islam

In Islam, wudu (ablution) is required before prayer (5 times a day) or the reading of the Quran, and one of these recommended forms of wudu is the cleaning of the teeth using a piece of fragrant wood (miswak) from the arak tree. If that is unavailable, the use of a toothbrush and a toothpaste prepared according to Islamic principles is an acceptable substitute, and even that not being at hand, the teeth can be cleaned by rubbing them with clean fingers and rinsed with water. So Islam definitely gets credit for promoting good oral hygiene.

2. Judaism

More admonition than promotion here. Jewish law is interpreted in terms of certain acts being permitted or not during shabbat (the Jewish Sabbath) and certain holy days.

Thus, there are comments by some rabbis about brushing, flossing, and tooth paste. For Orthodox Jews, on Shabbat it seems that toothpaste is not permitted as squeezing the tube could be interpreted as sculpting, which is not permitted during that period. Also a dry brush should be used, and it shouldn’t be rinsed afterwards. Hardly a hygienic way of dealing with the biological problem of disease bacteria. Some variance allows the use of a liquid tooth cleaning solution.

On Yom Kippur, brushing is forbidden for 26 hours.

One of the important principles is not to cause bleeding, so a soft toothbrush is suggested. However, bleeding is caused by gum inflammation which is the result of plaque bacteria not being adequately removed. Good brushing and flossing technique would result in healthy gums and no bleeding. Definitely a low mark for oral hygiene practices in Orthodox Judaism.

On the other hand, when asked if a woman going to the mikveh (ritual bath) must floss before immersion, the answer is yes, to remove particles of food between the teeth. The principle here is that the woman should be as clean as possible before immersion. There was even a suggestion by one rabbi that it would be better to floss regularly to prevent a “mishap” before entering the mikveh. Presumably, although my interpretation could be wrong, this refers to bleeding from the gums if a woman only flosses at the occasion of using the mikveh and not on other days. So at least in this case the Orthodox advice may be consistent with good oral hygiene.


A bit obscure. The analogy of dental hygiene and specifically flossing are cited as a way of understanding the relationship between God, suffering, clarity in one’s faith and our relationship to good deeds that are unrewarded in our lifetimes. Blake Hart, a Christian missionary living in Chile, uses the contradictory results of his good oral hygiene and poor dental record and contrasts that with his wife Bekah’s inconsistent flirtation with adequate oral care and her great results at the dentist’s office. Life is unfair. Why? Ask Job, he says.

See his blog at http://recoveringseminarian.wordpress.com/2013/02/20/toothbrushes-and-job/

One of the posts in the blog “The King’s Dale”, which is about Christian matters from the perspective of what seems to be an evangelical Protestant, is titled “Dental floss for the brain”, which I found a little intriguing, since the connection between God and dental floss doesn’t at first spring to mind, or at least not mine, except if we remember the homily that cleanliness is next to godliness.

The author of that blog was flossing his teeth when the image of all the disgusting dangers that lie hidden in between the teeth came upon him. He felt that “many Christians whose lack of interest in studying Scripture in-depth is akin to not wanting to floss.” This, he feels, is an immaturity in the faith which presents dangers when life difficulties happen, and the resultant ignorance leads to spiritual disease. So the study of the The Word would prevent false doctrines festering in the recesses of the mind, leading to the need for some spiritual mental/dental hygiene, I suppose, and if allowed to go on, to the need for a spiritual root canal treatment, gum surgery, or ultimately, a spiritual extraction.

I told you I would have to be careful here. On the surface, though, the author of the blog definitely advocates flossing.

Dental floss for the brain

A bit obscure.

I came across one question on a Catholic forum about whether oral hygiene is permissible during the Eucharistic mass. Unanswered and obscure.

Hinduism and Jainism:

Most Hindus have a ritual of cleanliness and prayer each morning, which includes brushing the teeth, followed by bathing, prayer and then eating. Oral hygiene is very important to most Hindus, especially those who practice ayurvedic principles.

Many Hindus prefer to brush their teeth immediately after waking in the morning and some may also scrape their tongue with a metal tongue scraper. This is done to avoid the ingestion of impurities that may have built up in the mouth during sleep.

Hindu Brahmins and priests, especially in the region of Varanasi (Uttar Pradesh, India) clean their teeth using cherry wood twig for an hour, facing the rising sun. They must have very clean teeth after that, and maybe even gum trauma. Orthodox Jains clean their teeth using only their fingers and without using the brush.

Chewing sticks or twigs derived from many plants are used in many religions and cultures, and some have antimicrobial properties. Twigs offer mechanical cleaning action.

The rural folk in Udupi region of Karnataka in India use the twigs from mango or cashew tree. Neem and banyan twigs are commonly used in the rural areas of Tamil Nadu, coconut twigs in the rural areas of Kerala. Datun is used in North India. In African countries, twigs from salvaodora persicca are used, and they seem to have a high concentration of fluoride, which may offer anticaries action that add the the benefits of cleaning the teeth.


The Chinese have long been paying special attention to dental health. They started oral hygiene and oral care way back in ancient times. The earliest toothbrush was introduced into China with Buddhism. It was a poplar branch with one end made into the shape of a brush, used to clean the teeth when dipped in medicine or aromatic herbs. Some people would clean their teeth by just chewing tender poplar or willow branches.
In the Southern Song Dynasty, mass-produced toothbrushes were available on the market. The toothbrushes were made of bones, horns, bamboo, wood and other materials, with one end having two lines of drilled holes for hair fixing. The hair was made of horsetail. The toothbrushes were similar in outward appearance to their modern-day counterparts.

Gargling was the most common way of mouth rinsing in ancient times. The earliest gargles include wine, vinegar, salt solution, tea, and water.

An early form of medicated tooth paste was recorded in the Taiping Holy Prescriptions for Universal Relief compiled under the commission of Emperor Taizong of the Song Dynasty: the paste obtained by boiling and concentrating the sap of willow branches, Chinese scholar tree branches and mulberry branches are mixed with ginger juice, and the root of Chinese wild ginger can be used to clean the teeth.

American Native Religion:

The Inca of Peru and the Aztec of Mexico used the toothbrush as early as the year 1000 AD. The Inca made their toothbrushes from a Molli tree and the Aztec took a twig from a plant they called tlatlauhcapatli. The plant had astringent properties, which cleaned the teeth but also tightened the gums and freshened the breath. Aztec dentists prescribed salt water as a mouth rinse.

Mouthwash used by North American natives was derived from the gold thread plant, which contains berberine, an alkaloid similar to nicotine and morphine in its effects. Witch hazel was another source. Precontact American Indians valued dental care and good mouth hygiene.


I read one letter that stated that the writer was a scientologist and cured her cavities through hypnosis, but this could be a tongue in cheek comment.


Not technically a religion, although believing it requires a lot of faith, but I can’t resist. What is the homeopathic way of rinsing the teeth clean? It can’t be done. The more you rinse, the dirtier the teeth get. Think about it.

Atheism: I read one claim that atheists floss. Why?

Devil worship: Another individual claimed that she made a pact with the devil that granted her clean teeth that don’t require brushing and flossing. Good luck.

Verrily, some of these citations are of questionable validity, but you gotta have faith.

But floss anyway. Believe me.

1001 Uses For Dental Floss #21- Fear of Flossin

The Scream, by Edvard Munch

Odontolinonophobia- Fear of dental floss (This term is newly minted. You won’t find it in any dictionary or psychiatric textbook.)
No, not the title of a book à la Erica Jong. Let’s face it. Floss scares some people, but not as much as it does RJ Moody, who fears that he’ll decapitate himself while applying its fearsome threads to his mouth. He even wrote a poem about it.


You could probably sing it, to the tune of the famous western song Riders In The Sky.

Fear of Flossing

My head bounced off the vanity,
and rolled across the floor.
I saw the ceiling, wall, and tile,
and then the wall once more.
This view just kept repeating,
and my nose was getting sore.
The redundancy was killing me,
’til alas, I saw the door.

Out on the kitchen floor I rolled,
between the dining chairs,
and then beneath the table.
It was dusty under there.
I hadn’t noticed that before,
but I guess I shouldn’t care,
because I had bigger problems;
for example, cellar stairs.

Going down the hall was fretful.
All my sins I did confess,
’cause the cellar door was open,
as by now you probably guessed;
plus I always get religious.
when I’m facing such duress.
Then just inches from the stairs,
my lucky noggin came to rest.

Now while my glee was genuine,
it was also quickly spent,
as I recalled the minute prior,
when I was a taller gent.
Before I grabbed that length of
waxy string with minty scent.
Before I had my horrible, freakish,
dental floss accident.

© Copyright 2013 RJ Moody (UN: rjmoody at Writing.Com). All rights reserved.
RJ Moody has granted Writing.Com, its affiliates and syndicates non-exclusive rights to display this work.

Following up on our first Use for Dental Floss (escaping from jail), another fear of flossing involves the uncanny ability of some prisoners to adapt pretty much anything, including floss, as a weapon.

Palm Beach (Florida) County Sheriff Ric Bradshaw, despite several lawsuits by prisoners who were trying to change his mind, refused to allow them access to floss, claiming they could turn it into a weapon or a rope. See the article in the http://www.upi.com/Odd_News/2012/10/18/Sheriff-No-floss-for-inmates/UPI-95591350581330/.

In his blog, The Graveyard Shift, Lee Lofland describes several ways in which prisoners can use floss, toothpaste, and plastic floss containers to create rope, strangle each other, pass notes from cell to cell, and saw through jail bars (very slowly).


It’s enough to make you scream from fear.

1001 Uses For Dental Floss #20- Artificial Muscle From Floss


1.Today’s post about artificial muscle created from nylon floss may get a bit technical.
2. I haven’t actually tried any of this, although the researchers claim you can do this at home.

Please bear with me, though. This could change your life.

Recently there was a flurry of excitement (for some) about a new technique for making artificial muscle fibres out of nylon fishing line or sewing thread. Nowhere in the scientific article was there mention of dental floss, but it too (at least some types) is made of nylon. Nylon is a polymer, a substance made of multiple copies of the same subunit (monomers), all strung together, and in this case, if it matters to you, the sub-unit is an aliphatic polyamide, which I won’t even try to describe any further.

If these fibres are first twisted into a coil and then attached to a load, the coil stretches to become thinner and longer, as you might expect. If this nylon coil is then heated, it makes the coil tighten and shorten about 1.2% per degree of heat applied, which doesn’t sound like much, but a rise of 100° to 200° Celsius can produce the equivalent to the power of a jet engine! It can tighten up to 50% of its length when doing this, as compared to natural muscle, which can only shorten 20%, and so can lift 100 times the weight and generate 100 times the power of the same amount of human muscle.

You can see a video of this material in action here:

Attaching the coiled nylon to greenhouse windows can make them automatically open when it gets hot inside and close again when the air cools, and this without any electricity or other source of power. Possible uses could be in robots, prosthetic limbs or wearable exoskeletons that are smaller and lighter than current models which use conventional motors or pistons. So maybe you could make some of this in your bathroom from nylon dental floss and then use it to power an automatic toothbrush. Who knows what the possibilities might be? You would still need a source of heat, but maybe you could run hot water from your sink into the thing. The possibilities are only limited by your imagination. So get thinking, people!

Just be sure to leave enough to floss your teeth, though, unless you can invent an artificial muscle-powered dental flosser to do it for you.