If you think about it, it makes sense. People have been getting food stuck in their teeth since the beginning of time!
It was not until the early 1800s, though, that flossing began to be recommended by a dentist. In 1819, New Orleans dentist Levi Spear Parmly published a book called A Practical Guide to the Management of the Teeth. He recommended that people floss with waxed silk thread "to dislodge that irritating matter which no brush can remove, and which is the real source of disease."
Although historians credit Parmly with the invention of modern dental floss, the first patent for dental floss was granted in 1874 to Asahel M. Shurtleff for "An Improved Pocket Thread Carrier and Cutter" that resembled modern floss packages. Shurtleff's company didn't begin to provide unwaxed silk floss for home use until 1882.
Unfortunately, dental floss didn't become popular right away. Professional dentistry was still a developing field, and silk thread was expensive.
The American Dental Association recommends flossing thoroughly at least once each day. Sadly, studies have revealed that only 10 percent to 40 percent of Americans floss daily.
According to dentists, flossing is a critical component of good dental health. Flossing (along with brushing) can prevent gum disease, cavities and bad breath.