A: One strand at a time, according to Larry Cohen, who has over the past half-century

Larry Cohen

collected hundreds of unique dental artifacts, which reside at Benco Dental’s home office in Pittston, Pennsylvania.

Silk dental floss debuted in the late 1800s – saving people, at last, from having to grab a few strands from the family steed after every meal.

Benco Chairman and Chief Customer Advocate shares a bit of history in the fall edition of Incisal Edge magazine.

Says Cohen:

” ‘DO I HAVE SOMETHING stuck in my teeth?’ This nettlesome concern dates back, perhaps surprisingly to prehistoric times – as evidenced by grooves discovered by archaeologists in the teeth of our loincloth-wearing, mastodon-slaying ancestors.

Given that early hominids’ approach to oral hygiene was (we can safely assume) situational and utilitarian, the preferred material back then seems to have been animal hair. Modern floss didn’t appear until the 1880s. believe it or not, when silk threads made their debut; Johnson & Johnson secured the world’s first patent on silk dental floss in 1898.

The handy glass dispenser you see here (shown) dates from just a bit later – around the early 1900s. A cursory inspection reveals a still functional spool of unwaxed silk floss – a find no less exciting (if less newsworthy, I grudgingly admit) than the contents of King Tut’s tomb.”

What replaced silk floss, and why?

Read the full story here.