A recent study in the Journal of Exposure Science & Environmental Epidemiology suggests the use of dental floss may contribute to increased exposure to per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS)—chemicals that are used for water and grease resistance. PFAS are commonly found in household products, such as food packaging, non-stick cooking pans, and stain-repellent fabrics. PFAS exposure has been associated with cancer, ulcerative colitis, and thyroid disease.
The American Academy of Periodontology (AAP) continues to recommend daily flossing as one part of a regular oral hygiene routine. Though the study found markers that may indicate the presence of these chemicals in certain brands of dental floss, the results do not confirm that flossing alone contributed to the higher level of PFAS found in the subjects. Future research is needed to determine why and how PFAS may enter the bloodstream. Until then, consumers are encouraged to understand the risk of PFAS and to explore possible alternatives to the products they use daily.