Concern about dental floss is unwarranted

dental floss

The American Dental Association has responded to a recently released study which raises concerns about the safety of certain types of dental floss. 

The study, conducted by the Silent Spring Institute and the Public Health Institute in Berkeley, California, suggests that Oral-B floss might contain perfluorooctanesulfonic acid, a commonly used man-made chemical that can affect the immune system and increase the risk of cancer.

In response, the ADA Science Institute (ADASI), the continuing education of the American Dental Association, has said that it “finds the data insufficient to support the conclusions presented in this research and associated media coverage”. 

It further added: “It is also important to bear in mind that this is a single study. [And that] public health policy and safety decisions should be based on the collective weight of scientific evidence.” 

The study, published in the Journal of Exposure Science & Environmental Epidemiology,measured blood samples from 178 women and found that those who reported using a certain brand of dental floss had higher levels of a type of PFAS called PFHxS (perfluorohexanesulfonic acid) than those who didn’t. 

According to the ADASI, one of the many shortcomings of the study is that it measured fluorine as a marker of PTFE (polytetrafluoroethylene), though the women in the study who reported using a particular brand of floss were found to have elevated levels of PFHxS. 

PTFE is often used in food and beverage, pharmaceutical, and cosmetic applications. The fact that the researchers were able to find the PTFE marker in several brands of floss does not mean that it is the source of the PFHxS in the women. 

The ADASI also noted that “this was a retrospective study including self-reported use of products, there are likely many other differences between women who did and did not report having used the brand of floss mentioned”. 

It went on to say that it sees no cause for concern based on currently available evidence, encouraging everyone to continue cleaning between their teeth daily with floss or other interdental cleaners in line with oral hygiene recommendations. 

Based on information sourced from the ADA website.

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  1. Many people worry about their safety about dental floss, it is because the presence of the chemical could affect the immune system and there could be more chances of suffering from cancer. However, if proper precautions taken and consult a dentist on time, they can get relief from such worries.


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