1001 Uses For Dental Floss #34 – Chewing On Strange Floss

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.


1001 Uses For Dental Floss #19- Floss Flavours

How do I floss my teeth? Let me count the ways (with apologies to Elizabeth Barrett Browning). The answer seems to be in infinite ways, something like love, but it should be done at least once, and preferably twice, every day (something like love?).

How many flavours does floss come in? Almost as difficult a question to answer.

Here’s a little tally of what I’ve been able to dig up:

There are Mint (obviously), Cinnamon, Creamsicle, Cupcake, Pork, Raspberry, Mint, and Fennel. One company packages a trio of floss packs with a breakfast theme: Coffee flavour, Waffle, and Bacon. I suppose you would use each flavour after finishing the related breakfast item, but I’m not a foodie, so I don’t really know.

Then come the truly unusual ones. Indian Curry (does it come in various degrees of heat?) and Cola (very subversive, really, when you think about it). There’s Salad, but don’t ask what might attract you to lettuce flavour, or is it cucumber? Does the Absinthe flavour cause hallucinations or whatever else absinthe does? I wonder if this is even legal, or might get you arrested if you’re trying to cross the border with it in your carry-on. Ranch might go well with the Salad flavour, I guess, then there’s Pickle (just plain wrong!) which could perhaps follow a hamburger.

Then there are the fruit flavours: Cranberry, great for the Thanksgiving holiday, Apple (as American as pie, but made in China – where else?), Cherry (again, as American as pie, with the same disclaimer). Flossing with Pineapple must be almost as good as a holiday in Hawaii. Banana apparently is recommended by 4 out of 5 monkey dentists, as noted on the packaging. There’s also Bubble Gum (Double Bubble, even), and Aloe flavour (protects your teeth from sunburn, maybe, but what does aloe really taste like?)

Others? Yes, more and more and more – Cardomom, Silver Nitrate (not really a flavour, but especially for you photography enthusiasts, or to leave attractive black marks on your teeth), Onion Ring, Old-fashioned Fruit Cake (when celebrating Christmas) and Egg Nog (New Year’s?). There probably are others, and you might even want to suggest some (to be published in a future post, I promise, if there are enough of them and they sound interesting but not disgusting.)

Strangely, I didn’t find floss with the world’s favourite flavour, Chocolate, but I did find a little book called The Chocolate Monster And The Dental Floss, by Jaesung Kim, part of The Dental Fairy Tales Series for children, available for Kindle (this is not an endorsement).


So what flavour is the best one to try? Whatever suits you, as long as you use it.

Illustration at top from Wikipedia Commons