Flossing is a largely overlooked part of an oral care routine yet it can significantly improve your oral health, helping maintain your overall health and wellbeing. While brushing cleans the outer surfaces of your teeth and helps maintain your enamel, flossing is important for cleaning those places that brushing can’t reach alone. Flossing removes bacteria and plaque that builds up in the nooks and crannies between teeth and in your gum line. If left alone this bacteria can cause tooth decay and gum disease.
How to floss
Flossing only takes a few simple steps!
- Get a piece of floss about 18 inches long (or more if required) and wrap the ends around a finger on each hand. Usually index fingers work the best but find what is most comfortable for you.
- Wrap the piece of floss between your fingers around your tooth in a ‘C’ shape and gently move it up and down. Make sure when you get to your gum line to get in there, gently moving the floss back and forth.
- Using a fresh area work your way along your piece of floss and repeat this process for each side of each tooth making sure gently floss your gum line.
Flossing is most effective when you do it once a day. Be careful not to floss too hard. Never snap or force the floss between teeth or against the gum as this can bruise or otherwise damage your gums. It is possible your gums may bleed while flossing. It is common for some bleeding when you start flossing due to the extra plaque being removed. see your dentist if it persists.
Toxicity concerns with floss
Unfortunately, most mainstream flosses are made with a petroleum based wax or synthetic plastic coatings using perfluorinated chemicals (PFCs). PFCs have become more popular as they have become cheaper to produce. It is best to avoid these chemicals due to high toxicity concerns.
Petroleum based waxes
If you use standard supermarket waxed floss you are most likely flossing with a petroleum based wax such as paraffin or microcrystalline wax. These waxes have noted concerns over organ system toxicity. Other petrochemicals have also been linked to cancer. We feel a lot better avoiding petrochemicals because of this in favour of a naturally waxed alternative – which we will get to in a minute!
Perfluorinated Chemicals PFC’s
As stated above PFC’s are synthetic plastic coatings. In recent years PFC’s have become more widely used in favour of waxes in floss because of the almost frictionless surface they can provide. The most common PFC used in flosses, and many other products for that matter, is Polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE). You may recognise it by the more commonly known brand name – Teflon. It helps the floss move between the teeth smoothly, reducing resistance as the floss is pulled back and forth.
Unfortunately, PFC’s have significant toxicity concerns. Most of the toxicity concerns are due to the highly hazardous contaminant perfluorooctanoic acid. Perfluorooctanoic acid is used in the process of making PFC’s. It is known to be bioaccumulative. This means the small amount you absorb into your body will stick around and, as you continue flossing, build up over time. That small amount can disrupt hormones, impact development, cause significant allergic responses and compromise your immune system. And just in case that wasn’t enough, it is also a highly probable carcinogen. So yeah, we put PFC’s and PTFE in the definite avoid pile.
Toxin Free Floss Alternatives
Flossing is still incredibly important. The good news is you can keep flossing without having to worry about toxic ingredients if you opt for a beeswax (or plant based wax) coated floss. The best part is that these flosses are just as effective if not better than regular flosses available. We currently have 5 different flosses suited for different needs.
Dr Tung’s is a well-known and respected American brand. Their smart floss is made with a stretchy nylon thread and a beeswax coating, allowing it to slide easier into hard to get spaces. The roll comes with a 2 month supply (aprox – 59 days if you use an 18 inch strand once a day). It has a cardamom flavour which is a nice alternative to mint. Dr Tungs smart floss also comes in an ecofriendly recyclable container. It is slightly thicker compared to the other options here and some have found they prefer a different floss if they have particularly tight spaces between their teeth. It is one of the best natural dental floss brands we have come across.
If you don’t like having floss wrapped around your fingers or are looking for a vegan alternative PearlBars charcoal infused floss picks is your best bet. PearlBar is an Australian brand. Their nylon thread is infused with charcoal and coated with a plant based wax. The wax helps the floss slide easier between teeth. Charcoal helps absorb stubborn bacteria as you floss as well as helping get rid of other stain causing nasties. They are biodegradable (yay!) and have a mint flavour. The downsides are that they are not as cost effective as buying a roll of floss. They also have a tendency to break easier if you are not careful and only come in the pick form. So bad news for those who prefer wrapping their floss around their fingers.
Aloe Dent is great UK based natural dental floss alternative. They use nylon thread coated with beeswax similar to Dr Tung’s. Aloe vera is added for soothing and healing. It has an aloe vera/mint flavour. They are also relatively thin for those of you trying to get into tighter spaces.
Radius cranberry dental floss is a great vegan friendly natural floss alternative. It has a soft slightly spongy texture that is different to other flosses. The floss itself is made from fine grade nylon filament and candelilla wax with cranberry and xylitol added in for extra support. Not only do the antibacterial properties of cranberry help combat stubborn bacteria it also leaves the floss tasting great! Xylitol also works effectively alongside the cranberry to get rid of the excess bacteria in your mouth. The small container contains a generous 50 meters of floss.
♦ Noosa Basics
Noosa Basics activated charcoal dental floss is a fantastic vegan dental floss alternative. You have no plastic container to worry about as it comes in a cute little cardboard box. It works just as well as a plastic floss dispenser but you do have to be slightly more careful not to get it wet. They are vegan friendly, using candelilla wax coated bamboo fibres to create an effective thin dental floss. Coconut oil and other essential oils help clean teeth and freshen breath giving a fresh minty flavour. The activated charcoal helps absorb harmful bacteria. If you need any other reasons to love this floss it is also Australian made!
Lily's Personal Review
Thickness: Dr Tung > Pearlbar = Radius = Noosa Basics > Aloe Dent
These are five great flossing alternatives and there are more out there. Personally I love using Dr Tung's dental floss when I try to do a deep clean of the inter-dental spaces because it is thick and you will love it even more if you are a big fan of the natural cardamom flavour. I enjoy using Aloe Dent when I try to clean the tighter spaces, but if I use it too much, I feel my teeth actually hurts; I like using Pearlbar tooth pick when I need a tooth pick plus it does remove odor from my mouth thanks to charcoal. Noosa Basics is the one offers zero waste in packaging plus it is Vegan. If you want to add a bit flavour in your flossing, I mean nice one, Radius cranberry is for you, and it is also Vegan. Personally Dr Tung is definitely my favourite.
Feeling confident while you floss that you are not using a toxic product means you can have a healthy, happy smile and peace of mind all in one. If you have any thoughts or feedback on these products we would love to hear what works for you!
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