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The evolution of dental floss
Updated: 2/21/2011 5:00:08 PM

Tips for effective flossing Before toothbrushes and dental floss became widely available, people used toothpicks made from splinters of wood to remove excess food and plaque buildup from their teeth.

Some individuals used toothpicks as a tool to improve dental health, as well as a sign of wealth, since only those who could afford a good meal would need a toothpick after eating.

According to a "Profile America" feature from the U.S. Census Bureau, toothpicks were first manufactured in Boston in 1869 by Charles Forster.

Dental floss has now become the primary method for removing debris from between teeth. Picks containing a short strip of floss allow for convenient dental care when individuals are not at home.

The American Dental Association (ADA) offers a few tips for effective flossing.

First, an individual should use about 18 inches of floss, which they should curve into a "C" shape against the side of the tooth.

Gently rubbing the floss up and down the side of each tooth will remove plaque or food left behind after brushing. Individuals should also remember to floss the backs of teeth.

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