If you floss, you are probably concerned with your health, but do you think as much about the health of the planet? Dental floss is an important part of any well-rounded dental hygiene routine, making floss a staple in most bathroom cabinets. Despite its widespread popularity and importance as an oral hygiene tool, an effective solution for disposing of dental floss has yet to be discovered. Regular dental floss is a non-recyclable item, and along with its packaging, contributes significantly to global waste as it continues to pile up in landfills. Here are more details on the uses, disposal, and impact of dental floss.
Do You Need to Floss?
Before we get down to the nitty gritty of the environmental impact of dental floss, let’s get one thing straight: You should be flossing your teeth! No room for debates here, flossing is a super important part of any excellent dental hygiene routine, and can help you keep your smile looking flawless for life. Here are some of the reasons why you should floss your teeth:
- Prevent Tooth Decay/Cavities: If you’ve had a cavity, you know they are nothing to mess around with. If you’ve never had a cavity, count yourself lucky. To help keep your teeth healthy and prevent future tooth decay or cavities, floss once a day. Flossing helps to remove plaque and bacteria that cause gum disease, and can help eliminate residual sugars from the foods or drinks you consume during the day. Flossing helps eliminate buildup better than brushing alone, helping you maintain a healthy mouth.
- Keep Teeth Looking White: One of the factors contributing to the color of your teeth is the gaps in between. Even small amounts of plaque and food buildup can cause your teeth to look more yellowed, no matter how much you brush with whitening toothpaste. Flossing helps to remove plaque and buildup, making the teeth appear whiter and healthier.
- Freshen Breath: Even after brushing, the bacteria, plaque, and food/drink buildup left in the cracks of your teeth can cause you to have bad breath. Though you may have brushed away some of the bacteria, the remaining bacteria will grow, leaving your breath as stinky as it was when you first picked up the brush. Flossing helps to eliminate odor causing bacteria.
- Prevent Gingivitis: Gingivitis is a gum disease that causes redness, inflammation, and pain in the gums. Regular flossing can help eliminate the bacteria responsible for gingivitis and other gum diseases, protecting and keeping your gums healthy.
What is Regular Dental Floss?
Regular dental floss, as created by many large dental hygiene companies, is made using nylon coated in a synthetic wax. Nylon is an extremely useful material used in applications requiring strength and flexibility, making it the perfect choice for dental floss production. Nylon dental floss works well for sliding in between teeth, does not fray as readily as other fibers might, and is strong enough to withstand the friction of flossing. But what exactly is nylon?
Nylon is an artificial polyamide, similar in properties to naturally occurring polyamides like wool and cotton. Nylon is a plastic, meaning it is non-biodegradable and can exist in landfills indefinitely, though there is some research to suggest it may be able to decompose in around 80 years. Nylon is a recyclable product, but is one that is rarely recycled properly. The majority of nylon products also include other ingredients/additives, making the majority of nylon products (including dental floss) non-recyclable. This commonly used plastic is one of the most frequently found ocean pollutants, and is known to produce nitrous oxide during production, a chemical gas over 300x more potent than carbon dioxide.
Though nylon has a natural slip that makes it perfect for getting in between teeth, most normal dental floss is also coated in a synthetic wax to help it slide and glide smoothly when flossing. Wax is especially helpful for individuals with tightly spaced teeth, or those that find flossing to be uncomfortable due to gum or tooth sensitivity. Teflon is one of the most common coatings chosen for regular dental floss, and though Teflon is a common substance found in many household goods, it may not be ideal in this application. Teflon contains PFAs, chemicals that make the product slippery and reduce potential friction. PFAs are hormone disruptors, which can cause serious health concerns like birth defects, cancers, compromised immune health, and more.
Recycling Dental Floss
Though nylon is a recyclable material, dental floss is not. This is because dental floss is made from mixed materials, formed into a state too small to go through normal recycling procedures. Essentially, recycling dental floss is far too costly for recycling companies to consider, and dental floss is known to get tangled and stuck in recycling machinery, making it even less lucrative for recycling companies to bother with it.
Since dental floss cannot be recycled, you might be tempted to explore other options to reduce the amount of dental floss you use. Some people recommend washing and reusing dental floss, but we don’t. Reusing dental floss can redistribute bacteria to other parts of your mouth, even if you wash it. Dental floss is also designed to withstand only one use, meaning the fibers can fray and become less effective if used more than once.
What about dental floss picks? Are those a good alternative to regular dental floss? Unfortunately, dental floss picks are not good dental floss alternatives, taking longer than regular dental floss to decompose in landfills, and requiring more materials/energy during manufacturing. Though recyclable plastic exists, dental floss picks are made from mixed materials, posing the same problem regular dental floss poses to recycling companies.
Now that you know a little bit more about how your favorite dental tool affects your health and the environment, you no doubt want to discover some eco-friendly alternatives to the non recyclable items you have in your bathroom cabinet. Lucky for you, eco-friendly alternatives to regular dental floss aren’t just better for the environment, they’re better for your overall health.
Introducing the Natural Biodegradable Silk Dental Floss from Wowe. Wowe Lifestyle is a brand committed to creating and sharing eco-friendly products with consumers in the hope of offering alternatives to unhealthy and ecologically unsound traditional consumer products. Made with recyclable materials, biodegradable materials, eco-friendly packaging, and a whole lot of love for the environment, everything from Wowe Lifestyle is a total home run.
The Natural Biodegradable Silk Dental Floss is an excellent example of the kinds of products Wowe offers. This dental floss is made with entirely natural and biodegradable ingredients, perfect for the eco-conscious flosser, or anyone looking for dental floss without PFAs. The Natural Biodegradable Silk Dental Floss is made from natural silk fibers, which are biodegradable and non-toxic to the planet. Though silk is a naturally smooth fiber, the Natural Biodegradable Silk Dental Floss by Wowe is also coated in a layer of natural candelilla wax, which contains no toxic chemicals like those found in Teflon dental floss coatings.
Though dental floss poses a serious threat to the environment, dental floss packaging and boxes are also common items found in landfills and polluting oceans. Most traditional dental floss packaging is made from a hard plastic only accepted by a limited number of recycling facilities in a limited number of states. Wowe has found a solution to the problem of wasteful plastic dental floss packaging by creating a reusable and refillable stainless steel container. The stainless steel Wowe dental floss container can be refilled whenever you run out of floss, so there is no need to send anything to the landfill.
Make the Transition to Eco-Friendly
Now that you know a bit more about dental floss and how it affects the environment, you are primed to start making the transition to using eco-friendly alternatives to other environmentally harmful everyday items. Wowe has plenty of options for eco-friendly dentistry, so you can start by transitioning your oral hygiene routine. Here are some more eco-friendly dentistry products you have to try:
- Toothbrushes: Toothbrushes are yet another everyday dental tool that contribute significantly to global waste and pollution. With over 1 billion plastic toothbrushes being disposed of annually, now is the perfect time to find an eco-friendly alternative. The Wowe Eco-Friendly and Natural Bamboo Toothbrush is an excellent alternative made from natural, biodegradable bamboo, and designed to be repurposed or disposed of in an eco-friendly way after use.
- Tongue Scrapers: There are lots of tongue scrapers on the market, and almost all of them are made from mixed plastics that could be exposing you to harmful chemicals, and cannot be recycled. Rather than adding yet another piece of plastic to a landfill, and wasting your money on disposable tongue scrapers, here is an eco friendly alternative: The Wowe Metal Tongue Cleaner. Available in stainless steel and pure copper varieties, these tongue scrapers can be reused over and over for years with no signs of wear and tear.
Are you interested in finding out more about the products you use each and every day? Check out the Wowe Blog to learn more, and discover eco-friendly alternatives!