Many floss companies add a non-stick chemical to help floss slide easily between your teeth.
This chemical, called perfluoroctanoic acid (or PFOA) has historically been determined as safe by researchers.
But a new Emory University Rollins School of Public Health study shows that this chemical is linked to thyroid disease.
The scientists found that more than 10 percent of people exposed to drinking water contaminated with PFOA reported having some type of thyroid problem.
Granted, the study involved people ingesting PFOA via the water system, not getting exposed to PFOA via floss, and last time I checked, nobody is swallowing floss — but it seems like an unnecessary risk to take given that floss does touch the inside of your mouth, can sometimes flake, and is very hard to breakdown.
They concluded that higher exposure to PFOA was indeed associated with thyroid problems, after a comparison of blood levels and years of exposure to the chemical.
What is PFOA?
PFOA is part of a group of nonstick chemicals called PFCs, which have unique properties that make things resistant to other things sticking and stains.
The problem is, PFC compounds don’t break down easily and are readily found inside our bodies.
Along with thyroid disease, different PFCs have also been linked to cancer, infertility, birth defects, and weaker immune systems.
How to Reduce Your Exposure to PFOA and PFCs
Use an all-natural dental floss. Don’t give up flossing — flossing can extend your life, improve your gum health, ward off dementia and heart disease, and keep your smile pain free and young for a lifetime. Instead, choose a natural floss.
Check your other personal care, cookware products, and food. PFCs are in teflon, microwave popcorn bags, pizza boxes, nail polish, and eye makeup. Watch for ingredients containing the word “fluoro” or “perfluoro.”
Check out natural brands. Until they do a study that proves that putting the mouth tissues into contact with PFOA and other PFCs is definitely safe, I’m not risking it, especially with all the great natural floss products out there. Tom’s of Maine, Desert Essence, and Radius all make natural, non-toxic floss.
The study is scheduled to be published online in the February issue of the journal Epidemiology.
Mark Burhenne DDS