It goes without saying that brushing is necessary in maintaining healthy teeth, but every time we visit the dentist, we're reminded that proper oral hygiene goes beyond just cleaning the surface.
For decades, dentists have touted the benefits of flossing, encouraging people to floss at least once a day to help dislodge food stuck in the gums and teeth as well as to get rid of plaque in hard to reach places.
However, in recent years, more and more studies are failing to "demonstrate that flossing is generally effective in plaque removal." The questioning of its effectiveness has even led to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services removing flossing as a recommended practice from its guidelines.
Although these changes have not stopped people from flossing, there's some alarming information stemming from a recent study that might convince more folks to drop the floss.
According to a study conducted by the Silent Spring Institute and Public Health Institute in Berkeley, the floss you're using may contain high levels of toxic chemicals.
Published in the Journal of Exposure Science & Environmental Epidemiology, the study singled out the popular Oral-B Glide floss for containing perfluorooctanesulfonic acids (PFAS), man-made chemicals that is linked to harmful health effects in humans and animals.
Since PFAS do not break down, they can remain in your bloodstream, and according to several studies, they could increase the risk of certain cancers, decrease fertility, and trigger immune system complications.
For the purposes of this recent study, researchers analyzed the blood samples of 178 middle-aged women. They found that those who flossed with Oral-B Glide appeared to have higher levels of some of the 11 PFAS that they were tested for.
"This is the first study to show that using dental floss containing PFAS is associated with a higher body burden of these toxic chemicals," Katie Boronow, the study's lead author, explained.
Other brands cited in the research include CVS Health EaseBetween SuperSlip Dental Floss Waxed, Crest Glide Deep Clean Cool Mint Floss, Safeway Signature Care Mint Waxed Comfort Floss, and Colgate Total Dental Floss Mint.
She added that their findings will hopefully help educate consumers about the dangers of these chemicals so they "can choose flosses that don't contain PFAS."
Proctor & Gamble, the company which manufactures Oral-B products, reassured its customers that consumer safety is their top priority and their dental floss is safe.
"Our dental floss undergoes thorough safety testing and we stand by the safety of all our products," a company representative told The New York Post.
If you're concerned about PFAS, you may need to ditch more than just your floss. According to the CDC's Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry, you could get exposed to the toxic chemicals through fast food containers and wrappers, pizza boxes, microwave popcorn bags, nonstick cookware, carpets, water resistant clothing, cleaning products, personal care products, cosmetics, and paints.