Dental Floss: How healthy is your floss?
26th OF September 2012
By Keeva Stratton.
Dental Floss is highly recommended by dentists as an essential part of your daily oral health routine. We've all been reminded from time to time about the benefits of flossing when it comes to removing hard to reach food particles, strengthening gums, and generally keeping your mouth clean. But what we may not be aware of is what floss is made of, and the potential consequences this material has for our health and our environment.
The majority of commercial dental flosses are made from either nylon or are Teflon coated. Nylon is a product that is derived from petroleum, and is generally considered to be bad for the environment. Not only is it made from a scarce and non-renewable resource, but petroleum is also known to have a particularly slow rate of decay, meaning it decomposes slowly over many years. Due to its slow decomposition, nylon dental floss can only add to our growing landfill burden.
If the floss itself is not made from nylon, sometimes the wax used is derived from petroleum, so it's worth reading the ingredients carefully. If the environment is a key concern for you, then the packaging itself is also worth noting, and you may want to avoid any plastic.
Teflon coated dental floss, on the other hand (yes, Teflon, the same coating applied to long-lasting non-stick fry pans), is known to contain toxic chemicals that some believe could be linked to serious illnesses, such as cancer. While studies are yet to confirm what harm the use of a Teflon dental floss could pose, for those of us wishing to avoid any avoidable exposure to such chemicals, it may be time to consider other forms of floss.
For those wanting to maintain their teeth, without risking harm to either themselves or the environment, you'll be happy to know that there are a growing number of natural options on the market. Natural dental flosses, such as varieties that use tea tree oil wax and other organic ingredients, are gaining popularity. These products are also typically housed in environmentally-friendly recycled packaging. Try asking at your nearest natural marketplace, such as About Life, about what natural flosses are available.
Philips has also recently released an air based flossing device known as Sonicare Airfloss. Using pressurized bursts of air, water or mouth wash, this is the latest in electric flossing. Much like an electric toothbrush, it has a rechargeable battery, and claims to provide an effective alternative to traditional flossing.
Whatever your choice, it is important that you try to make dental flossing a regular part of your oral healthcare routine.
To find out more about the potential dangers of flossing, we recommend Alexx Stuart's article.
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