Flossing is one of the most important things you can do for your dental hygiene, but a recent study done by Mamavation found that some of the most popular dental floss products contain concerning levels of dangerous PFAS or “forever chemicals.”
Mamavation founder and consumer activist Leah Segedie released test results of 39 different dental floss products, including unwaxed floss, wax coating floss, nylon floss, flossers, spongy floss and dental floss threaders.
How were they tested?
To test the dental floss, Mamavation partnered with Environmental Health News and worked with an EPA-certified lab. Because it’s impossible to look for all of the 12,000 PFAS compounds, their lab does not look for them directly. Instead, the chemical that they look for is called organic fluorine, which all forever chemicals have in common.
What were the results?
- 33% of the 39 dental floss products had indications of PFAS.
- Levels of organic fluorine were found between 11 parts per million (ppm) to 248,900 ppm.
- Dental floss products have the highest levels of organic fluorine they have ever seen in any consumer study.
- No tooth floss marketed to children that Mamavation tested had any indications of PFAS.
Why are PFAS compounds added to floss?
Mamavation found that companies either intentionally or unintentionally added PFAS to their products, as suggested by the amount of organic fluorine found in testing.
When high levels of PFAS were found, this indicated that the company intentionally added it to the product to create a slick texture that allows the floss to glide between the teeth easily. In other cases, when the levels of PFAS were much lower, they determined that the forever chemicals detected in testing were added unintentionally.
For example, Oral-B Glide contained the highest level of organic fluorine Mamavation has ever found in a consumer study, at 248,900 ppm. While they were unable to interview the company for this investigation, these high levels of organic fluorine suggest that it was intentionally added.
The following dental flosses had concerningly high indications of PFAS over 70,000 ppm organic fluorine:
- Oral-B Glide Pro-Health Deep Clean Floss — 248,900 parts per million (ppm) organic fluorine
- Solimo (Amazon) Extra Comfort Mint Dental Floss — 94,200 parts per million (ppm) organic fluorine
- Colgate Total Mint Waxed Dental Floss — 91,400 parts per million (ppm) organic fluorine
- Up & Up (Target) Smooth Slide Floss Mint — 74,400 parts per million (ppm) organic fluorine
What are some alternatives?
By no means are these findings a reason to stop flossing altogether. If you’d rather avoid using dental floss, there is an alternative called a water flosser, also known as an oral irrigator. If water flossing isn’t for you, there are 26 other brands of dental floss that Mamavation tested that did not have high indications of PFAS. A handful are listed below, but for the full list, click here:
- CVSHealth EaseBetween Original Dental Floss — non-detect organic fluorine
- Dentek Kids Fun Monster Flossers — non-detect organic fluorine
- Dr. Rams Fun Flexi Flossers Fun Fruity Flavor — non-detect organic fluorine
- Equate (Walmart) Mint Waxed Dental Floss — non-detect organic fluorine
- Gum Crayola Kids Flossers Grape Flavor Fluoride Coated — non-detect organic fluorine
Mamavation has conducted a dozen other PFAS consumer investigations on everyday items and household essentials, including parchment paper, baby strollers, nut butters and cooking oils. For the full list of their investigations, visit their website.
To learn more about PFAS and their dangers, take a look at our blog post that breaks down where PFAS can be found, how they can affect the body and what you can do to reduce your exposure.