October 7th, 2010

Am I Really Flossing with Teflon?

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Photo used under Creative Commons from Nancy JonesFrancis

Most of us think of dental floss as one of those relatively insignificant bathroom products.  A forgotten toothbrush on a trip is always replaced; forgotten floss can wait until we get home.  But the bottom line is that flossing can extend your life and improve your gum health-yes it can! Brushing your teeth without flossing is like cleaning 70% of your body.  Everyone should be flossing-if you have teeth you should floss.

The amount of dental floss sold in the US each year could span the distance from the earth to the moon and back four times!  As a result, the production and disposal of dental floss have a tremendous impact on the environment.

The dangers in dental floss?

  • Petroleum-Most dental floss is made from nylon, which is a petroleum based product.  Nylon, like most petroleum products, has a very slow decay rate and will sit in landfills for a long time before decomposing. It shouldn’t be flushed down your toilet-it could cause a blockage in the sewer pipes.
  • Teflon-Most floss is coated with a type of Teflon-yes, think non-stick cookware-called PTFE.   The EPA has found these coatings to be highly toxic-causing all sorts of health issues including various forms of cancer.
  • More petroleum-Waxed floss is generally coated with petroleum based synthetic wax.
  • The containers that house the floss are also petroleum based-plastic.

Safer solutions-natural dental floss

  • Lessen your impact by choosing floss that is not coated with petroleum derived products
  • Use less floss
  • Reuse your floss-not so sure about this one.
  • Find brands without PTFE-Teflon
  • Choose floss coated with a natural wax or no wax
  • Look for minimal or recyclable packaging


Here are some natural brands to check out:

Remember you don’t have to floss all your teeth-just the ones you want to keep!

Have you tried any of the natural brands?

Disclosure: If you order floss through the Amazon links I will receive a few pennies.  Thank you!

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15 Responses to “Am I Really Flossing with Teflon?”

  1. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Sandra Lee, Groovy Green Livin. Groovy Green Livin said: Am I really flossing with Teflon? http://bit.ly/c2IfXy […]

  2. I tried the desert essence one, and it was like trying to floss with rope. Sigh…

  3. OK-good to know Telula. There are so many brands out there. Hopefully you will find one that works for you. Keep me posted.

  4. The Tom’s was super thick and unpleasant for me to use. My teeth have good contact, and flossing with this was like repeatedly jamming apple skin between my teeth. It sometimes caused my gums to bleed because I had to use so much force just to get it between my teeth!

    I went back to using Glide. I don’t think it presents a significant health risk or substantially increases my impact. I’m open to trying something else, but it has to work!

  5. Jennifer- I use the organic silk floss by Radius, it does not jam but glides well, it works great,biodegrades, and the ingredients are not harmful. I would rather support this company then one making floss from petro, teflon, etc. as we know how great that is for our health and the health of the environment. I would also avoid buying Tom’s of Maine as it is owned by Colgate, not a corporation I personally want to support, and the ingredients in their products are not as safe, I think they tend to generally greenwash consumers.

  6. I use Tom’s. Still has plastic but at least no Teflon!

  7. Interesting Jennifer-I’ve never heard that complaint about Tom’s floss before. That sounds awful. I was a Glide user for many years-I actually love the stuff. I don’t use it much anymore, but I’m still searching for the perfect, safe floss.

  8. Thanks for the suggestion Ines. I’ll have to give Radius a try.

  9. I have a few containers of Tom’s floss floating around too Lisa.

  10. My mom reused her dental floss. I turned my nose up at that idea, but maybe we could modfy it to make it more acceptable, i.e. pour antiseptic mouthwash or boiling water (might it melt??)over it.

    Anyway, thanks for addressing this.Care 2 website had mentioned a while back that there were carcinogens in some flosses, but not which ones. That site today referred to you.

  11. Hi Laurel, Reusing floss is pretty green! I haven’t tried that myself, but I know others that do. Glad I could help!

  12. There is an alternative that I love!
    Thieves floss(made by Young Living) not only works beautifully, but it helps to maintain a healthy mouth with essential oils of lemon, cinnamon, clove, eucalyptus, and Rosemary.

  13. […] decision. Nevertheless the counter argument could be the floss diameter increases with the wax coating about it. How could you tell in the event that you grind your teeth when you are sleeping? There […]

  14. […] Dr. Alper: It’s ideal to floss before bed, but the real key is to floss once a day. Your basic goal is to disturb the bacterial colonies so flossing any time during the day is beneficial. Flossing is one of the most important pieces of effective home dental care. You want to steer clear of a Teflon coating on floss, which many conventional brands continue to use. For Teflon-free floss options look here. […]

  15. […] your teeth without flossing is like cleaning 70% of your body.  Everyone should be flossing-if you have teeth you should floss. Make sure you’re using floss without petroleum and Teflon. HERE are a few safe […]

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About Lori

I’m Lori Popkewitz Alper, a recovering attorney, mom of three and the Founder of Groovy Green Livin. Come along with me as I work hard to make the world a little safer for each of us.

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