When you talk about cutting excess plastic out of your life, your oral hygiene routine might not be the first thing that springs to mind. Sure, you’re cutting the plastic in your kitchen and trying not to buy things that come in disposable plastic packaging, but if you’re trying to cut out the plastic for health reasons, you might want to check your dental floss.
Back in the day, dental floss was made from thread coated in wax. The wax is key here: it helps the floss slide between your teeth more easily. For folks like me that don’t have a lot of space between our teeth, it makes flossing a lot more comfortable. As plastic and plastic coatings like Teflon got more popular, they also got less expensive and chances are the dental floss in your cabinet is not coated with wax but with a perfluorinated polymer – also known as a PFC. It’s the same stuff that keeps your food from sticking to a Teflon pan and you’ll also find a PFC coating on some fast food wrappers.
The Trouble with PFCs
So, what’s the problem with PFCs on your dental floss? The biggest issue is that they don’t stay there. When you floss your teeth PFCs leach off of the dental floss and into your body while you’re getting that unsightly broccoli out from between your teeth.
PFCs are not only carcinogenic, but they can damage your immune system and affect your hormone levels. The amount you absorb from one round of flossing probably isn’t going to hurt you, but because PFCs stick around in your body for a long time they can build up over time. If you’re flossing once or twice a day, you should probably consider a PFC-free dental floss alternative. Check out a few ideas on the next page!
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