Dentist Blog

Posts for: February, 2015

Floss is an invaluable tool that we often take for granted.  Floss is so prevalent in North America that we purchase over 3 million miles of it every year (an average of 18 yards per person).  This invention is a crucial part of routine dental hygiene, but where did it come from?


The concept of dental floss was first put forward in 1815 by Levi Spear Parmly.  Parmly came from a family of well-known dentists in New Orleans. He recommended that patients floss with silk floss. 

The first patent for a dental floss dispensing device was filed by Asahel M. Shurtleff in 1874 For removing foreign matters lodged between the teeth, dentists recommend the use of thread in place of tooth-picks, [fl]oss-silk being considered the best material for the purpose  for the dental company Codman & Shurtleff.  The product was not, however, actively marketed until 1882.

In 1898 Johnson & Johnson introduced dental floss on a broader scale by securing a patent for silk floss made from leftover sutures.  However, adoption of silk floss was fairly low before WWII, and during the war domestic supplies of silk became scarce.

Around the same time Dr. Charles C. Bass (the Father of Preventative Dentistry) invented nylon floss.  Nylon, in addition to being more abundant, was also more abrasive and flexible than silk and thus better suited in the production of floss.


Since the invention of modern day nylon and biodegradable flosses, there have been many studies trying to capture the rate of flossing in the patient population.  According to a 2004 study conducted by NYSDJ, over middle-aged patients are significantly more likely to floss than their younger and older counterparts.  Additionally, only 13.4% of respondents were frequent every day flossers, whereas 57% reported not flossing at all.

Benefits & Techniques:

Flossing is a vital part of dental home care.  The interproximal surfaces of teeth (the space between) cannot be reached by brushing alone.  The regularly flossing with the proper technique can significantly lower gingival inflammation scores as well as help mitigate increases in periodontal pocket depth.  Regular flossing removes plaque, polishes surfaces, and helps to reduce bad breath.

For those with bridge work, fixed retainers, and orthodontic appliances try floss “threaders” – a flexible soft plastic pick that works just like a needle and thread.  For tight spaces between teeth try using waxed floss as it will slide through better.  Water-picks cannot replace brushing and flossing, because a water-pick cannot remove plaque with the efficiency of brushing or flossing.

Follow these steps to improve your flossing technique:

  1. Cut about 18” of floss off the roll
  2. Take the ends in your hands
  3. Wrap the ends of the floss around two fingers from both hands
  4. Slide the floss gently into the space between your teeth
  5. Once the floss reaches the gum-line pull the ends away from you until the floss forms a c shape.
  6. Then pull one end of the floss through and away from the tooth
  7. Repeat with all interproximal spaces
  8. Rinse

Of course in addition to brushing and flossing, regularly scheduled dental cleanings are crucial to maintaining optimum oral health.  Give us a call to schedule your cleaning today!

By Dr. Kauffman
February 12, 2015
Category: Oral Health
Tags: Dentures  

Individuals new to wearing dentures have many questions about what they will experience, what their appliance is like and what they will need in future. The key to success is competent and compassionate care from an experienced dentist. Education on the basics of Denture FAQswearing and caring for dentures is also important, and these FAQs will help you adjust to your new smile:

  • What kinds of dentures are there? Many people replace one or more missing teeth with removable dentures -either a complete set or a partial denture. Where appropriate and as their budget allows, some patients opt for dentures supported by small metal implants, which are placed into the jawbone to secure the denture, eliminating any movement of the appliance.
  • What are dentures made of? Dentures are custom-made at a dental lab according to impressions provided by the dentist. The technician uses naturally-colored plastic resin to make both the artificial teeth and gums. Partial dentures are anchored to the remaining teeth with metal clasps.
  • How many appointments does it take to get dentures? The short answer is a few. The first appointment involves evaluation by the dentist to discuss options for tooth replacement after extraction. The dentist may take x-rays and impressions during this visit. Subsequent visits involve fitting a temporary denture, if required, and final checks and fittings on the permanent denture.
  • How will wearing dentures change how I eat, speak and look? A correctly fitted denture is an outstanding way to replace teeth, but eating and speaking does require time for facial muscles and ligaments to adjust. The patient must chew using both sides of the mouth simultaneously. Small pieces of softer foods help to practice chewing. Slower, more deliberate speaking avoids clicking noises or slight slurring of certain letter sounds. In private, the individual can read out aloud from a newspaper or book until speech regularizes. Regarding appearance, dentures greatly minimize the sagging and wrinkles that can accompany tooth loss. Look forward to a bright, natural-looking smile.
  • What should my oral hygiene look like? Brush the entire denture with a paste, or soak in a water-activated product to remove plaque and avoid stains. Both should be approved by the American Dental Association as appropriate for dentures. Dentists direct most patients to take their dentures out at bedtime. Also, continue with regular examinations and cleanings (for remaining teeth) as your dentist and hygienist recommend. Get any sore spots or redness on the gums checked immediately.
  • Are dentures expensive? Even with modern dental treatments such as implants, dentures remain a reliable option for tooth replacement. They are more budget-friendly and with proper care can last 5 to 7 years or beyond.

Thomas W. Kauffman DDS PC would be happy to discuss your questions about dentures. Located in downtown Atlanta, GA, Dr. Kauffman and his staff are eager to give you the attractive and healthy smile you have always wanted. For a consultation, call them at 404-524-1981.