By Aparna Mele, MD
Dental floss may be good for your teeth but is extremely toxic to the environment, because of their Teflon-like coating that contains toxic perfluorinated chemicals (PFCs) and perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl chemicals (PFAs). These manufactured chemicals are among the most potent and longest-lasting type of greenhouse gases emitted by human activities. The chief impact of environmental concern is global climate change. Different PFAs may enter the food chain in various ways, gradually accumulating and remaining in a body over time—a process due to more intake than excretion of the chemicals. The chemicals in the coating accumulate in landfills, leak into the soil and our waterways. The floss filaments can kill ocean life. Furthermore, neither the floss nor their plastic spools or containers can be recycled easily.
Thankfully there are new eco-friendly flosses becoming readily available that are coated instead with biodegradable silk and bamboo. Some are zero percent waste products because they are packaged without a plastic coil in a refillable water container or compostable cardboard boxes. Oral irrigators or water flossers are excellent replacements to standard floss, plug into an outlet, are reusable and last for years, use little water and electricity, and effectively remove plaque.
Flossing is important for dental health, but not at the expense of our planet and our food chain. So say NO THANKS to the free traditional flip top floss containers your dental hygienist offers you after a dental cleaning, and choose to eco-floss instead!
For more information on eco-friendly dental alternatives, check out these earth friendly tips: