Did you know that most popular dental floss without PFAS products use petroleum-based floss threads?
Petroleum is something that we shouldn’t be ingesting last I checked. It’s right there alongside forever chemicals.
So why are companies using plastic floss and making themselves sound natural? I share more about these flosses to avoid in this post.
If we’re already all on the same page about fluoride and synthetic dyes and flavorings, then that makes this natural floss hunt much easier.
All that stuff is easy to spot.
But these petroleum-thread floss brands really push their marketing hard. You must wade through them to get to the treasure.. a chemical-free floss!
This post will help you identify these PFAS-free nylon flosses in the future, so you can easier protect yourself, friends and family about this topic and product suggestions!
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Most Dental Floss Today Is Far From Non-Toxic
Chances are you already know about PFAS and some the problems associated with it.
Here’s a question for you.
What did it take for you to know about Teflon floss?
And when you found out,
Were you able to find non-toxic floss at any physical retail store?
Most people out shopping in person, looking to do the right thing and buy some floss, have no choice but to buy a bad floss.
Irregardless of if they know about toxic floss or not, Nylon or Teflon floss are all most shops have on their shelves.
I’ve caught on about safe alternatives to non-stick pans.
…and fluoride in toothpaste.
But toxic floss got by me until just this year in 2023.
What Are Forever Chemicals?
PFAS (per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances) are a large group of man-made chemicals that bioaccumulate wherever they end up, be it rivers, forest lands or our bodies.
They remain and cause serious problems as they continue accumulating. Problems to us, and problems to the environment.
Cancer, autoimmune disease, liver, thyroid, prenatal and fertility issues are just some of these problems they cause.
And now today most Americans have PFAS in their system.
It’s not only that. This contamination now begins before a baby is even born into this world.
Non-stick Teflon pans are notorious now for their toxic-fume emitting non-stick pan coating called PTFE (polytetrafluoroethylene). It’s one of many “forever chemical” types that make up the large PFAS group of synthetic chemicals.
Studies Prove PFAS Dental Floss Contaminates US
This 2019 study was one of the first to show the PFAS on dental floss thread.
Product testing using particle-induced γ-ray emission (PIGE) spectroscopy confirmed that Oral-B Glide and competitor flosses contained detectable fluorine.Boronow, K. E. et al. (2019) PFAS serum concentrations study
Other main sources of PFAS contamination in the study include coated cardboard storage containers and city water.
The quote from the PFAS serum study continues,
Despite the delay between blood collection and interview, these results strengthen the evidence for exposure to PFASs from food packaging and implicate exposure from polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE)-based dental floss for the first time.
Then there was another study performed by the Mamavation blog where they examined 39 popular floss products and found 33% of them to have PFAS chemicals.
Damage Connected To PFAS
Kidney issues are connected to PFAS exposure. So if you’ve ever had strange sharp organ pains after an intense flossing session, I believe there is a connection as this is a personal situation that stopped when I switched.
Here is a list of health damages found to be associated PFAS chemicals. (source: ewg.org)
- Neurodegenerative diseases – i.e. Alzheimer’s
- Heart attack and stroke
- Autoimmune disease
- Cancers, including breast, pancreatic and testicular
- Pituitary gland damage
- Hormonal imbalances
- Low birth weight
- Heightened cholesterol
- Thyroid disease
Other Chemicals Besides PFAS In Dental Floss
Many dental floss brands have stopped using PFAS.
However, they’re still using problematic ingredients and materials like fluoride or petroleum-based threads.
You have per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS)…
And then you have endocrine-disrupting petroleum-based waxes and plastic floss threads tainted with phthalates and more.
Polyethylene flosses are one of the more sneakier types due to the fact that they do eventually degrade into the environment, so they can use all the eco-friendly marketing on them.
Polyethylene is a natural polymer that will eventually degrade into the environment over a long period of time.
Nylon and polyester are said to be safer than Teflon floss, but anything petroleum-based is likely going to contain small amounts of known-harmful compounds.
Known-harmful compounds in petroleum include:
- Heavy metals
- Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons (PAHs)
If you’ve ever etched or nicked your floss on accident, or even if you haven’t, chances are you’re swallowing micro-plastic particles of whatever petroleum-based floss you use.
Dental Floss Ingredients To Avoid
Waxed or unwaxed, avoid all of these materials in your dental floss if you can:
- Petroleum-based threads – here are a few of the most popular types:
- Polyethylene is biodegradable natural polymer.
- Nylon, a synthetic polymer that does not degrade over time.
- Polyester – synthetic polymer, also not biodegradable.
- Synthetic fragrances
- PFAS, including Teflon (PTFE)
- Secret patented-formula floss threads
Watch Out For Greenwashed Floss Brands
Greenwashing is when a company makes their product look more natural or environmentally friendly than it really is. That’s probably the nicest way to define this deceptive practice that can have real-world effects.
This market of anti-PFAS flossers must have gotten jumped on the second it started making any type of waves in any of the medias.
In a space where someone is seeking something truly natural, non-toxic and biodegradable, hiding the materials of a dental floss’ thread is an example of greenwashing.
Reader’s Digest has an article on greenwashing where they quote the founder of a sustainable clothing brand on greenwashing. She explains the concept better than me, so here is the quote:
Greenwashing makes the seemingly straightforward decision to ‘buy better’ much more complex and exploits well-intentioned consumers by misleading their decision-making and clouding their ability to actually make a more sustainable purchase.Katie McCourt, sustainable clothing brand founder in Reader’s Digest
You see greenwashing in oral care products just as you do in non-stick pan alternatives.
If you don’t look at the thread material, there’s a high chance you will purchase a petroleum-based floss if you go out there searching for floss without PFAS.
By greenwashed, I mean these brands that make floss without PFAS that market themselves as natural when in fact they use nylon or polyester threads which are based in petroleum.
It’s marketing as being biodegradable when in fact it’s just packaging or the floss holder that’s being talked about in the product’s title.. not the actual floss thread which is the main part of a dental floss product.
These types of companies use fluoride, synthetic coatings and flavorings as well, while maxing out any small part of their product that’s natural as a main focal point of their product.
Dental Floss Brands To Avoid
From DrTung’s Smart Floss to Tom’s of Maine..
All of these dental floss brands are better than their mainstream PFAS floss counterparts, but their floss threads are still made from petroleum.
And I bet we can find that many these PFAS-free nylon-natural floss brands are really one in the same company, and not counterparts at all!
I would not recommend any of the following floss products.
Tom’s of Maine Almost Natural Floss
- WHAT YOU’LL GET: Six 32-yard packs of Tom’s of Maine Naturally Waxed…
- THICK & DURABLE: Strong between teeth, yet gentle on gums
- EASY-TO-USE NATURAL FLOSS: Easy-glide, naturally waxed nylon floss…
drTung’s Extremely Smart Floss
- NATURAL EXPANDING FLOSS – Our all natural floss is an expanding waxed…
- STRONG YET GENTLE FLOSS – Our expanding and gentle floss is softer on…
- CARDAMOM FLAVORED FLOSS – Our premium floss is naturally flavored with…
Hello Activated Charcoal Infused Nylon Floss
- Contains three 54.6 yard packs of hello activated charcoal infused…
- This thoughtfully designed floss rocks xylitol and activated charcoal…
- Hello naturally friendly activated charcoal infused floss is made with…
COCOFLOSS Recycled Polyester Floss
- DESIGNED BY A DENTIST: Tired of flat tape floss, Dr. Chrystle Cu…
- DELIGHTFULLY CLEANSING: Delicious Mint Cocofloss is naturally scented…
- PLANET-FRIENDLY, CLEAN, AND CRUELTY-FREE: Cleanly spun from ~85%…
EcoFrenzy Kids Floss Picks
Children’s flosses like these from EcoFrenzy Kids are “biodegradable flossers” with fluoride and synthetic flavorings. But it’s OK because they’re giraffes.
- Establish fun & healthy dental care habits for kids, while caring for…
- Biodegradable flossers made from cornstarch based PLA making safe for…
- Designed to be fun and kid friendly with different colorful flossers.
Dessert Essence Tea Tree Oil Dental Floss
Dessert Essence is another petroleum-based floss coated with wonderful natural ingredients.
If that’s good with you, then these will do the trick.
But if you’re looking for a truly-natural and eco-friendly floss, I’d skip these too.
- This plant-powered dental floss relies on Beeswax, a sustainably…
- Inherently cleansing Australian Tea Tree Oil and Mint keep breath…
- Gluten Free, Cruelty Free
Taking A Closer Look At One Of These Greenwashed Floss Brands
Looking at drTung’s Smart Floss, I want to know what the actual floss thread is made from. If you go to their Amazon page, the ingredients there don’t include the thread’s material.
They list “simple polyesters” on their product page’s short description, so they’re not hiding it on their site.
But when asked about the ingredients of their Smart Floss in their FAQ section, they don’t mention the “simple polyesters” or anything about their floss thread’s material. Just like on their Amazon product page, this information was left out.
No mention of polyester.
“What are the ingredients in Smart Floss®?
Smart Floss® is flavored with natural cardamom essential oil and lightly coated with a vegetable/bees wax blend. It contains beeswax plus one or more of candelila, carnauba, castor oil and rice bran wax. It does not contain genetically modified ingredients, known allergens, phthalates, soy or silica, and is dairy-free, gluten-free and fluoride-free.*”Dr. Tung’s
As long as I have natural thread options available to me, I will give their patented expanding polyester a pass.
Dental Floss Ingredients You DO Want
THE GOOD Floss Threads & wax coatings
These natural floss thread types below are the ones that you should be replacing your old flosses with.
Each can be found waxed or unwaxed.
Here is a closer look at the good floss thread materials used.
The list includes both animal and plant-based fibers.
Best Floss Thread Materials
A natural protein fiber that comes from silkworms bred specifically for their silk.
To get the silk, the silkworm must be boiled alive right after he’s formed his cocoon on the tree.
Boiling or steaming the cocoon is the traditional and most common way still used today. These hot temps melt the gum that holds the soft silk cocoon threads together. If boiling hot temperatures are not used, they release a chemical that makes their cocoons harden. If this happens the silk can still be had and used, but it won’t be as soft. The gum must be melted away, so that the cocoon can be properly unwrapped for extracting the silk fibers.
Production of plant-based products kills insects too, so if looking at animal-cruelty considerations, I’d have to learn about the insects being killed during bamboo or corn fiber production to properly assess.
Today’s chemical-laden flosses can be replaced by 100% silk floss threads that can come uncoated, or coated naturally with beeswax or Candelilla wax.
Piercing, electrocuting and baking are three other methods of silk extraction. All of these include killing the silkworm.
Peace Silk (Ahimsa Silk) – Silk Extracted From Unharmed Silkworms
As the name implies, Peace silk does not kill nor harm the silk worm.
Because of a growing awareness, manufacturers of silk in China have begun to practice this production method of silk. I see this as a positive.
My first two silk dental flosses
The first silk floss I tried was 100% silk and coated with beeswax, but it’s too thick for tight fitting teeth.
Because I had no other option other than to use PTFE dental floss, or worse, no floss at all, I ended up realizing I could unwind it into thinner, usable strands.
So if you get silk floss that’s too thick, this could work for you also while you look for a better fitting natural floss. It’s far from inconvenient as compared to leaving food stuck in between teeth!
I am currently using this white, uncoated silk floss on the left in the image below.
The white, uncoated floss on the left ended up being the better one for me.
Organic Bamboo Fiber
Bamboo fiber is another eco-friendly material used to make organic dental floss.
Bamboo itself is naturally antibacterial and its said to be better at removing plaque than traditional plastic floss.
Another pro with bamboo fiber floss is how stiff it is that it seems to help you get food out as compared to the silk nylon flosses that make you dig into your gums at time just to get a stubborn piece that a more-stiff bamboo floss could remove with a single stroke.
Organic Corn Starch Fiber
Another good traditional floss alternative is non-GMO corn floss.
It’s made using PLA, or polylactic acid, from corn starch.
Corn starch floss is quick to degrade and can be thrown in your BSFL, compost or bokashi bins right alongside any other food scraps you throw in.
I wouldn’t want to throw the “biodegradable” polyesters some natural floss brands use into any of my herb garden fertilizer bins.
Organic Cotton Fiber
Today, when you say traditional floss you mean plastic floss. But cotton is a floss thread material that was traditionally used long before these days of plastic floss.
Organic cotton is another material that makes for great dental floss.
Cotton is biodegradable and can be wound thin. I have not tried it yet, so cannot personally attest to it, but it’s one of the actual traditional floss materials used.
There is a marketplace called Mercari which has a seller with hundreds of good reviews that makes a cotton floss set. She puts no information on the listing, so I can’t vouch for this product. That’s not an affiliate link. When I find cotton flosses I will added them to the list below. Cotton floss has been the hardest to find available online (and for us, each and every organic floss option is unavailable locally!).
Natural Wax Coatings
The Best Natural WaxES
This plant-based wax comes from the Candelilla shrub native to Southern U.S. and Northern Mexico.
Another plant-based floss wax that is sustainably harvested. This one from the Carnauba Palm in Brazil.
A natural byproduct of having honey-making bees. Beeswax is a renewable resource, and from what I have learned, its production – like for coating dental floss threads – supports bee populations that could use this attention.
Below I share a few recommended dental floss brands for each of these natural thread-types to look for.
List Of Non-Toxic Dental Floss Brands
Floss Without PFAS, Plastic Or Petroleum-Based Threads
Avoid today’s bad flosses with these non-toxic floss alternatives that will remove the same amount of food particles and plaque if not more, but are much better for you and the environment!
Because the best non-toxic flosses should also be environmentally friendly.
I haven’t gone into silk vs plant-based fiber floss, and which is more cruel to animals yet, so I don’t have an opinion on this topic yet. If you know about this and could leave a comment, I’d appreciate the information.
Starting off with my personal favorite, silk dental floss.
100% Silk Dental Floss Brands
RADIUS offer good quality natural silk dental floss products.
- They have natural unscented options
- The RADIUS silk floss linked below is coated with Carnauba wax instead of beeswax or Candelilla.
- SOFT & SMOOTH: The silk is spun in candelilla plant wax (derived from…
- PLASTIC FREE: Our flosses are packaged in 100% plastic-free packaging….
- NO NASTY INGREDIENTS: You won’t find PFAs, glutens, preservatives,…
2. Ohm Earth
Ohm Earth offers us a good quality silk dental floss with bamboo holder.
It’s a silk-thread floss that’s also coated with Candelilla wax.
Its sleek-looking reusable bamboo case is better than the glass ones other similar brands use.
- ✅ ECO-FRIENDLY FLOSS: A gift for your smile and the Earth! All…
- ✅ BAMBOO SUSTAINABLE FLOSS HOLDER: Our container is reusable with…
- ✅ ZERO WASTE PACKAGING: The Ohm Floss is packed in a small…
Organic Bamboo DENTAL Floss Brands
3. Me Mother Earth
This bamboo charcoal floss by the brand, ME MOTHER EARTH, is one of the better options I have found on Amazon.
They mention their floss as being “responsibly” made in China with TÜV Rheinland Certifications for their floss and packaging. When asked also mentioned the importance of fair working conditions and wages for the workers who produce their floss, ME MOTHER EARTH share their thoughts. At the very least, it’s good to see a company address these things when producing products overseas.
- ✔️ AFTER THE SUCCESS OF OUR TOOTHBRUSH KIT NOW YOU CAN BUY JUST…
- ✔️ VEGAN AND CRUELTY-FREE unlike silk floss – Our ECO FLOSS is…
- ✔️ AMAZING DEAL 2-PACK OF THE BEST FLOSS (EVER) – Help the…
BOONBOO Bamboo Floss is another good bamboo floss product I found that’s made from bamboo fibers. This vegan floss uses:
- Woven bamboo fibers
- Candelilla wax instead of beeswax
- If you like natural flavors on your floss, they have good essential oil flavors: banana, coconut, coffee, mint
- Bamboo charcoal dental floss is made from woven yarn.
- It is PFAS-FREE and a great alternative to traditional dental floss…
- Comes in a FSC certified paper packaging and a plastic-free glass…
Non-GMO Corn Starch Floss Brands
5. BAMBO EARTH
Below is the only organic corn starch floss product I have found available so far.
The name of the recommended corn floss product is, CORN STRAW ECO FLOSS. It’s manufactured by a company called, BAMBOEARTH.
And by all accounts, when looking at the reviews which I find to be genuine, the floss is strong.
- ✔️HIGHEST QUALITY AND NATURAL CARE! See the difference with our…
- ✔️CANDELILLA WAXED & MINT FLAVORED! Coated with candelilla wax our…
- ✔️2x REFILLABLE FLOSS THREADS & PLASTIC FREE PACKAGING! This pack…
A little roll has 55 yards, which is about half a football field or 165 feet worth of dental floss.
Benefits of Switching To Organic Dental Floss
It Won’t Harm You
Gone will be all the PFAS and micro plastic particle ingestion that occurred in the past. This gives you a leg up on this silent battle against your home’s hidden chemicals.
It’s More Eco-Friendly
If we all used biodegradable flosses made from natural materials, toxic landfills with toxic dental floss and floss picks wouldn’t exist. There would be less plastic waste in the world if we all just switched to organic dental floss. As a mass, us individual consumers could wield immense power if we came together and got on the same page on important issues like these.
You Know What You’re Getting and Ingesting
When these petroleum-thread floss brands list their ingredients on Amazon, some will go as far as to list the coatings or flavorings used, but not the floss thread’s material. On this shopping platform you can find the correct information for these products by sifting through their Q and As there. This ends up being more useful than the information on their websites if the e-commerce marketplace’s listing is not giving the proper information.
Vetting out the best natural dental floss brands boils down to the thread.
What you’ll find is that when you finally find a few floss products with natural silk or corn fiber threads, for example, these will also be flavored with pure essential oils (if at all), and will be uncoated or coated with a natural wax of some sort (beeswax or plant-based),and that’s it.
I’ve yet to see a 100% silk brand use fluoride or anything synthetic. Same goes for the bamboo and corn starch fiber floss products I’ve found.
So the key is this: Find the brands using a truly natural floss thread material.
Avoid all the noise and confusion marketing has brought into the space, find a clean thread, and that product will more than likely be a clean, usable product.
Flossing With Teflon Floss Vs Not Flossing At All
If you have the unfortunate ultimatum to make, using toxic PTFE floss is ultimately better than keeping food particles wedged in between your teeth.
But still, getting onto natural floss sooner than later is the best course of action one could take.
This is because not flossing is linked to very bad stuff.
You’re best off flossing for your health with the bad floss, and avoiding foods from these PFAS containers as well as other PFAS sources, and then eventually obtaining the good floss.
Ultimately, it’s better to floss with Teflon floss than to not floss at all.
Choose Safe Dental Floss For Your Health
I take it most of us didn’t know that floss secreted these toxic forever chemicals into our bodies with each floss stroke taken.
Learning this stuff comes piece by piece over time.
For some, sooner. For others, later.
Now that I have learned about what floss is made from, how these ingredients impact our health and the health of our environment, I am always going to use and advocate for biodegradable, non-toxic dental floss options to friends and family.
If you’ve already discovered the facts about toxic dental floss, that is a great thing because you can now help your friends and family out too (for their own good)!
When you couple blanket, mass-recommendations like to “floss daily” (which I’m fully on board with) with the gift of PFAS floss, fluoride floss and plastic floss choices on most store shelves, it becomes an almost sinister, calculated scenario. But that’ll have to be for another article. For now it’s just good to be aware about your home’s products.
Thanks for COMING BY
It was a Mark Burhenne, DDS social media posting of some sort that brought floss ingredients to my attention finally, just this year. He has an excellent post on this subject of safe dental floss ingredients.
What about you?
Have you made the switch to floss without PFAS or plastic thread?
Were you shocked when you first learned about how bad dental floss ingredients are for us and our environment?
Last update on 2023-09-28 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API