A new study from the Silent Spring Institute and Public Health Institute found higher levels of PFHxS (perfluorohexanesulfonic acid), a PFAS, in women who flossed with Oral-B Glide compared to those who didn’t. Other brands of floss may also use these chemicals (which may or may not appear on the label).
“This is the first study to show that using dental floss containing PFAS is associated with a higher body burden of these toxic chemicals,” lead author Katie Boronow, a scientist at Silent Spring.
My interest in this study is it shows that even small exposures to toxic chemicals not only can but DO end up in bodies in measurable amounts.
Toxic-Free Dental Floss
First I just want to say that dental floss is not one of your greatest exposures to toxic chemicals. It’s not a product I’ve focused on in the past.
Note in the comments below one reader wrote it saying she had contacted P+G, who sent her a document that shows PFAs are NOT an ingredient in their Glide dental floss. The study did not even look at the ingredients in the product. It was rather a study that showed that select group of people who had PFAs in their body used Glide dental floss. So we can’t say that there are PFAs in Glide dental floss.
But if you are concerned about this possible exposure, let me give you my thoughts about products that are unlikely to contain PFAs or any other industrial chemicals as ingredients.
Rather than simply give you a list, I want to show you my process of how I came up with this list.
First I went to my new Zero Toxics Products + Materials Matrix. Even though I haven’t written the ratings specifically for dental floss yet, these ratings do show how I think about products and how I quickly evaluate products that are likely to be toxic-free.
Here are quick notes of what the ratings would be for dental floss:
ZERO TOXICS “A+” RATING
Dental floss made from certified organic product where all materials and the manufacturing facility and process are certified organic.
ZERO TOXICS “A” RATING
Dental floss made from certified organic or sustainable materials that come from renewable plants or animals, or abundant minerals.
ZERO TOXICS “B” RATING
Dental floss made from renewable plants or animals, or abundant minerals. Toxic chemicals may be used to some degree in production or processing. May contain residues of toxic contaminants such as pesticides or pollutants.
ZERO TOXICS “C” RATING
Dental floss made from petroleum-based ingredients. May not be suitable for people with Multiple Chemical Sensitivities or other high-risk groups.
ZERO TOXICS “D” RATING
Known to cause illness or injury with repeated exposure over time—products or materials made with one or more chemicals of concern.
ZERO TOXICS “F” RATING
Known to cause immediate harm and may even lead to death—made with one or more chemicals of concern
Here are some dental flosses I looked at, with their Zero Toxics Matrix ratings and materials given in their descriptions:
B – Eco-Dent Gentlefloss Premium Dental Floss, Mint
100% vegan waxed, no information on material used for floss itself
B – Dental Lace | Silk Dental Floss with Natural Mint Flavoring
This one is made from 100% silk and Candelilla wax.
B – Desert Essence Tea Tree Oil Floss
Coated with natural beeswax with added antiseptic tea tree oil, material of floss unknown
B – RADIUS – NATURAL SILK FLOSS
Made from 100% silk and Candelilla wax.
B – COCOFLOSS Coconut-oil infused luxury dental floss
This one is made from microfibers infused with coconut oil. Says right in the description “no PFA.”
B – Dr. Ginger’s All Natural Coconut Oil & White Charcoal Dental Floss
Made with coconut oil, xylitol and white charcoal, no information given on fiber of floss.
The above list all happened to end up with my Zero Toxics “B” rating.
It seems that many mass market brand dental flosses may contain PFAs to make them glide between teeth more easily. Any brand that does contain PFAs would fall into my Zero Toxics “D” rating—not an immediate poisoning but could build up to be dangerous over time with regular use.
This isn’t a complete review or writeup on all dental floss, just something quick to get started with if you are considering changing your brand of dental floss.