From silk to nylon to Silicone – smaller, cleaner, better and friendlier! The Story of the Gummy Floss
Dental Floss – How it all started
Not many people know, but the dental floss is not a modern day invention. Intra-dental cleaning has been practiced for ages (no one likes having things stuck in their teeth!) and the dental floss exists since the early 1800’s. It was a pioneering dentist by the name of Levi Spear Parmly who first urged his patients to use a strand of silk to clean between their teeth. He realized that a large surface of the tooth is essentially being neglected in the daily care routine and that if people only cleaned between their teeth, they could reduce tooth decay and protect their gums.
However, as noble and smart as Dr. Parmly’s intentions were, the Victorians simply didn’t get it. They just loved their toothpicks. The Toothpick was not just a means to clean one’s teeth back then, but a status symbol. After each meal each gentleman would take out his personal and often personalized gold (!) toothpick, kept in a neat box with a velvet interior, and start picking at his teeth. How on earth would a piece of silk, which had to be cut by a knife from large spool, compete with the flashy pick? Not to mention that to use the silk one would have to put one’s fingers in one’s mouth! The horror!
Needless to say that people didn’t wash their picks between uses and that ladies didn’t use toothpicks. People back then simply expected their teeth to fall out.
The first dispenser that helped civilize the floss and make it more popular is also not a very new invention. In 1870 it was Asahel Shurtleff invented a bobbin of thread with a prong in the shape if a U sticking out from the side. The prong was used to guide the floss between the teeth and it inspired the portable floss dispensers we know today.
Today’s common dental flosses
Industrial and product design had since introduced humanity to flavored floss, pre-cut floss, various containers and other gimmicks – all in an effort to make us take on and maintain this ever so important habit of flossing our teeth. Still, the majority of people simply can’t be bothered with flossing.
Flosses nowadays are made of nylon. Waxed or un-waxed makes little difference, as most flosses are uncomfortable to use, cause bleeding and pain if your gums are sensitive and still require the same old technique of wrapping them around your fingers and basically sticking your fingers into your mouth. There are mounted floss on various holders but those too, albeit possibly more comfortable or easier to use, still cause pain and discomfort and people just don’t floss.
Why do we need a better dental floss?
The numbers show that 80% of Americans believe that Oral Hygiene is important, yet only 49% of them floss daily…
Something had to be done. So we re-invented the dental floss!
In comes the Gummy Floss…
- Material – First, we looked at material. We’ve already had some experience with medical grade silicone rubber products and we were toying with one of them one day during a team meeting. We suddenly realized that it’s actually fun to play with the silicone “floss”. It didn’t hurt, it didn’t cause bleeding even for those of us with sensitive gums and… it actually cleaned!
- Design – This is when we realized we had something that needed further exploring, so we started working on the design. The goal was to create a product which is comfortable to use, doesn’t hurt the gums, prevents or at least reduced bleeding, yet doesn’t compromise on cleaning thoroughly.
- Quality – What we came up with was the short string of silicon, with micron ridges along its length and two loops or thumb grips. With the Gummy Floss you simple grab the loops or even insert your index fingers or your thumbs into them for easy grip, and then floss just as you would with any other floss.
- Functionality – Because it is made of Silicone, you can rinse the floss under running water between each set of teeth and when you are done and re-use it later.
- Added value – The next step was to try and make it tasty. We realized that anything we put in our mouth has to have a taste and it has to taste good. Just like toothpaste and mouth wash and food and candy. To make it easier to use, it simply had to taste good. So we experimented with flavors and it simply worked like magic!
The result is our colorful, tasty Gummy Floss that we gave people to try. Over 100 people already tried the floss. Our testers were from various sectors (regular users, dentists, dental hygienists and even children). 96% of our testers reported that the Gummy Floss is more comfortable and easier to use than regular dental floss. 66% of them said that they would definitely prefer to purchase and use the Gummy Floss to any other floss. Our Youngest tester was less than 3 years old and she loved the “cleaning game” after meals.
What we envision the Gummy Floss becoming…
We created the Gummy Floss because we know how important dental hygiene is. We wanted to give people a product that they can actually use and that will like to use. We want to educate the public about oral hygiene and its importance and we want to help people all over the world and of all ages to have healthy smiles.
And most important… never stop smiling!
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