According to the US Department of Health and Human Services in communications with the American Dental Association (ADA), you should be practicing interdental cleaning, or flossing, every single day. In the last several years, the selection of floss in most drug stores and department stores has grown exponentially. Today, the choices now include silk dental floss, which is growing in popularity as an eco-friendly alternative to nonbiodegradable plastic-based flosses.
What is Standard Dental Floss Made Of?
The majority of the dental floss you will find on store shelves is made out of synthetic polymers, and the two most common of these polymers used in floss are Teflon and nylon. Both should sound familiar; stockings and other garments of clothing are made of nylon, and Teflon is the coating on pots and pans that keeps food from sticking. These polymers make up the actual strands of floss, but in many cases, manufacturers will also apply some sort of coating to make the floss glide easier or taste better. Common coatings include waxes or wax-like substances, natural and artificial flavors (mint and cinnamon being the most common), and other proprietary ingredients that aren’t listed on the packaging.
Some Startling Numbers
If we assume for a moment of the American population about (325 million people) that approximately one-third of the population roughly (108 million) flosses every single day, and if we assume that they use an average of 12 inches (one foot) of floss each, things get pretty interesting. That means that there is about 108 million feet of non-biodegradable plastic “string” making its way into landfills and oceans every single day. That’s 20,455 miles of floss per day, 143,185 miles of floss per week, 613,650 miles of floss per month, and almost seven and a half million miles of floss per year. It’s no wonder people are turning to eco-friendly alternatives to traditional floss.
Environmentally Friendly Silk Dental Floss
If you want to do your part to prevent Teflon, nylon, wax-like substances, and various other chemicals from not only harming the environment but also potentially harming your body, consider purchasing organic silk dental floss, instead. It is made with all-natural and completely biodegradable silk that is coated with natural wax. Better still, look for a product that comes in plant-based packaging and is made with post-consumer waste (also known as recycled materials). The packaging is the dispenser, too, so there’s very little actual waste – if any at all. The best part? If you use a foot of floss each day, you’ll be preventing 4,380 feet of nonbiodegradable floss from going out into the environment.
Of all the different things you can do to help keep the planet clean, dental floss might not be at the top of your priority list, but it should be. Even the smallest things can really add up over time – and that’s evident when you think about the 7.5 million miles of Teflon and nylon dental floss going into landfills and oceans every year in the United States alone.