In 1819, New Orleans dentist Levi Spear Parmly published his book, A Practical Guide to the Management of the Teeth. In the book, he recommended that people use waxed silk thread to clean between the teeth “to dislodge that irritating matter which no brush can remove, and which is the real source of disease.”
Floss has come in many variations: thick, thin, waxed, unwaxed, flavoured, and unflavoured. But there have been some truly unusual attempts, as I’ve mentioned before: floss with nicotine, and made from nylon, silk (originally but not any more), polytetrafluorethylene (AKA GoreTex™ or Teflon™), and a number of “natural” or “organic” floss materials, generally made of silk, promising to be non-GMO, vegan, vegetarian, and gluten-free. They could also claim to be free-range, cruelty-free (although silkworms probably wouldn’t agree, if anyone were to ask them), cholesterol-free, and non-radioactive, too. Oh, and while we’re at it, no trans-fats either.
I came upon a different sort of floss recently in my journeys across the World Wide Web. It’s X-Floss by Idontix. (This is not a paid commercial.) Invented by a dental hygienist, Lise Slack, originally from South Africa, it comes in two forms, either a very, very thick yarn or a very, very wide gauze ribbon, (and “lite”, of course) which the company claims can be used to clean very wide spaces where teeth have been lost, below bridges, around implants, or behind the last tooth in an arch, but the really wonderful thing about this floss is that the Australian company iDontix sponsors a charity, http://www.i-hope.org.au/, which rescues orphans all around the world, so a sincere hooray for them. Not many companies can tout that in their literature.