Flossing has once again come under fire this week, as a study was released that attempts to prove a  link between a certain brand of floss to compounds known as Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFASs). These compounds have been linked to multiple health concerns, but does this mean that flossing is bad for you? Let’s investigate.

A recent study in the Journal of Exposure Science & Environmental Epidemiology reported elevated levels of PFAS compounds found in the blood of a group of women that took part in their research. It was also found that (a certain brand of) floss contains a PFAS, and that many of the women reported using this brand of floss. PFASs are known to cause certain types of cancer, low growth hormone, stunted sexual development, and the list goes on…

According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), PFASs have been used since the 1940s and are present in a wide variety of commonly used items and foods. They can be found in:

·       Food packaged in PFAS-containing materials, processed with equipment that used PFAS, or grown in PFAS-contaminated soil or water.

·       Commercial household products, including stain- and water-repellent fabrics, nonstick products (e.g., Teflon), polishes, waxes, paints, cleaning products, and fire-fighting foams (a major source of groundwater contamination at airports and military bases where firefighting training occurs).

·       Workplace, including production facilities or industries (e.g., chrome plating, electronics manufacturing or oil recovery) that use PFAS.

·       Drinking water, typically localized and associated with a specific facility (e.g., manufacturer, landfill, wastewater treatment plant, firefighter training facility).

·       Living organisms, including fish, animals and humans, where PFAS have the ability to build up and persist over time.

As you can see, these compounds are everywhere! The question becomes: is using (a certain brand of) floss adding to the problem? That’s not easy to answer, but a statement from the American Dental Association sheds light on the issue. They contend that it is incredibly difficult to form a direct link between floss and elevated blood serum levels of PFAS when we know that our environment is loaded with these compounds. The single study was also completed on a small group of women that self-reported their use of floss. Why is this important? Can you tell me what type of floss that you use and be honest about how often you use it? Do you know how often you come in contact with other sources of PFASs? There is very little control over that type of information and it is difficult to measure the impact of the floss on blood concentration as these compounds tend to accumulate in the body over time .

As you may have noticed, out of respect for the company, I’m not mentioning the brand of floss that was mentioned in the study. You can see the study for yourself in the link above and make a decision to switch brands if you choose. The bottom line is that cleaning between your teeth is one of the most important things you can do for you mouth, so my feeling regarding floss, which is in line with the ADA, is that all patients should use it daily. However, I absolutely understand the desire to avoid chemicals (don’t get me started on the amount of chemicals used in manufacturing these days!!!), so changing your floss is a decision you may want to consider. I also stand behind other options that will allow you to clean in between teeth, such as these Soft-Picks or this WaterPik for less than $40.

This is a touchy subject, so if you have questions please contact me at the office anytime.

CrossKeys Dental is located at 110 CrossKeys Office Park in Fairport. Dr. DuPre՛ and Dr. Badali provide comprehensive family dentistry and are always welcoming new patients. Visit us at www.CrossKeysDentalFairport.com for more information. 

         © 2019 CrossKeys Dental in Fairport, NY by Vince Badali, DDS.