The importance of flossing has been well established and tested in dental hygiene literature for over a century (invented in 1898) and twice annual when we visit our dentist. However, the waste generated from plastic floss containers has a significant impact not only on our landfills, our ocean but also on our own health.
When researching this topic I was startled to discover the U.S. Food and Drug Administration “…classifies dental floss as a Class I device, which means it is deemed to be low risk and subject to the least regulatory controls“. The FDA has little regulator obligation on what comprises floss itself. Historically floss was once made from silk fibers. The FDA states that “…today, floss is usually made from nylon filaments or plastic monofilaments.”
With limited regulation on the makeup of floss, could it have harmful chemicals in it? After digging into the literature to answer this question I came across Boronow et al., 2019 published article:
Flossing with Oral-B Glide, having stain-resistant carpet or furniture, and living in a city served by a PFAS-contaminated water supply were also associated with higher levels of some PFASs. Product testing using particle-induced γ-ray emission (PIGE) spectroscopy confirmed that Oral-B Glide and competitor flosses contained detectable fluorine. Despite the delay between blood collection and interview, these results strengthen the evidence for exposure to PFASs from food packaging and implicate exposure from polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE)-based dental floss for the first time.
Boronow, K. E., Brody, J. G., Schaider, L. A., Peaslee, G. F., Havas, L., & Cohn, B. A. (2019). Serum concentrations of PFASs and exposure-related behaviors in African American and non-Hispanic white women. Journal of Exposure Science & Environmental Epidemiology, 29(2), 206-217. doi:10.1038/s41370-018-0109-y