Why You Should Consider Using Natural Dental Floss

There's no denying that the world is becoming increasingly aware of the food we eat, the products we use, and what is in them. Activists like The Food Babe and organizations like The Environmental Working Group (EWG) are peeling back the layers and revealing hidden ingredients that are not only unnecessary but harmful — and your tiny string of dental floss is no exception. Both the floss itself and the packaging can have toxic chemicals that affect our health and materials that negatively impact the environment.


But even though conventional dental floss leaves much to be desired, we shouldn't give up flossing altogether. After all, if you pay any attention during your dental checkups, you'll hear the hygienist constantly reminding you of the importance of flossing to prevent cavities, bad breath, plaque, and gum disease (per Healthline). So if you've already looked at your toothpaste, and are ready to investigate what's actually in your dental floss, read on as we reveal its ingredients, its effect on the environment, and our favorite natural alternatives to traditional brands.

There are harmful ingredients hidden in dental floss

Unlike the controversy of toothpaste's ingredients (i.e., fluoride), the materials used in dental floss are more straightforward. The first sketchy ingredient to point out is PFAS or perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances, coated over floss to provide an easy glide and repel liquids, explains Force of Nature. These chemicals, which are also present in cookware (called Teflon), have been shown in recent studies to cause negative health effects such as cancer, liver damage, thyroid disease, fertility issues, and more.


You'll also find artificial flavorings used in dental floss, which the blog Natural Baby Mama explains are approved by the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA), but they are not required to specify what those ingredients are. For example, there may be added preservatives and parabens that "are known to disrupt hormone function, an effect that is linked to increased risk of breast cancer and reproductive toxicity," reports the non-profit Campaign for Safe Cosmetics (CSC) according to Scientific American. These ingredients are allowed by the FDA because they are present in such small amounts, but when we are using several products with these chemicals, our bodies can become overloaded.

Disposing of floss negatively impacts the environment

If everyone on the planet uses and disposes of their floss at least once a day, this seemingly small piece of waste adds up fast. The non-biodegradable nylon used in today's traditional dental floss takes longer to break down in landfills. But it doesn't always stay there, says Terra & Co. Small plastics like floss get blown into the oceans, disrupting the fragile ecosystem, causing digestive issues, and even suffocating marine animals.


It's widely known that single-use plastics are harmful to our planet and our health, and unfortunately, this is how most conventional floss usually comes packaged. The average box of floss lasts about two months, so if everyone in the United States followed the American Dental Association's guidelines for flossing for one year, we would fill a six-story high football field with our empty containers. Yikes! Maybe it's time to look for some plastic-free alternatives instead.

Our top natural dental floss picks

Don't let these stats scare you. The natural dental care industry is growing, with products like biodegradable dental floss becoming more and more readily available. Instead of nylon or plastic, look for floss made from bamboo, silk, or corn, which are all biodegradable, sustainable, and natural (via Natural Baby Mama). Then look for recyclable, compostable, or even reusable packaging.


One of our favorite options is Radius Silk Floss, which is 100% biodegradable from the string to the packaging. The thread is made of pure, fair-trade silk, and instead of PFAs, they use carnauba wax for a comfortable glide between the teeth. They also make a vegan option (sans silk) that has a spongy texture, providing a nice scrubbing effect.

There are also sustainable brands offering tiny reusable glass or stainless steel containers as their eco-packaging of choice. Etee Floss checks all the earth-friendly and toxin-free boxes using plastic-free, refillable glass packaging, 100% Mulberry peace silk thread, candelilla wax coating, and peppermint extract. Our last pick is completely zero-waste: the Waterpik. The dental care appliance shoots water between your teeth, dislodging plaque, bacteria, and food particles, preventing gum disease and cavities, per The Mayo Clinic.