What’s in Your Dental Floss? The Risk of PFAS – “Forever Chemical”￼
What are PFAS?
PFAS is an acronym used for a family of chemicals called per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances. These chemicals are synthetic and do not appear naturally in the environment. PFAS were originally discovered in 1938 when a chemist working on refrigerators accidentally created a slippery white substance. That event would later lead to the creation of a very common brand of non-stick cookware. These pots and pans made clean-up a breeze.
As of February 2022, the US Environmental Protection Agency counted about 12,000 different kinds of PFAS. The common characteristic of all PFAS is that they include a carbon-fluorine molecule bond. This molecular bond is one of the strongest known in chemistry. These chemicals are virtually indestructible and do not fully degrade in the environment or within living tissue. For that reason, they’re often referred to as “Forever Chemicals.”
PFAS have been linked to health effects such as: ulcerative colitis, high cholesterol, thyroid disease, testicular cancer, kidney cancer, and pregnancy induced hypertension. While consumers enjoyed non-stick cookware, research later showed the toxicity that can occur with use over time. This led to the reformulation of non-stick cookware which has been PFA-free since 2013.
However, PFAS are still used in many other products including: rainwear, microwavable popcorn packaging, fast-food packing, furniture, outdoor equipment, tapes, and cosmetics. PFAS are also found in electronics and medical equipment. It is clear, the chemicals are found in many day to day products. Federal testing showed that, “PFAS are in the blood of more than 98% of Americans and stay in the body years after exposure.”
PFAS in Dentistry
PFAS have also been a hot-topic among the dental community. This is due to the fact that PFAS are commonly found in coated dental floss. Which brings up the question, how many dental professionals know which flosses contain PFAS? Using a coated floss that contains PFAS daily, could negatively impact one’s health.
There is one peer-reviewed scholarly article on PFAS in dental floss. It concluded that using PFA coated floss was associated with higher serum concentrations of PFAS. In this study, the researchers measured 11 different PFA chemicals and blood samples taken from 178 middle-aged women. In the study, there were 18 different flosses researched. Researchers then compared the blood measurement results which showed that women who flossed with the single strand coated floss tended to have higher levels of PFAS in their body compared to those who did not use it.
At this time, the American Dental Association’s stance is that there is not enough evidence to conclusively say PFA coated floss is not safe.
Hopefully, soon there will be more research studies completed on the subject to offer certainty of the safety of PFA coated floss. In the meantime, as dental professionals it is important to educate patients on the potential risk of using PFA coated floss and offer PFA-free floss suggestions. Of course, here at BURST we’re proud to say the BURST floss is PFA-free. If you’d like to try it, you can purchase a kit here: https://www.burstoralcare.com/product/floss.