Study Finds Flossing with Oral-B Glide Resulted in Higher Levels of PFAS in Urine

Note from Lindsay: This post was originally published on Mamavation’s website (please go check it out, Leah is a wealth of information!) and I’m re-publishing it with her permission. This has been edited down from it’s original post. 

Just when you thought you were safe because you already switched to a safer toothpaste, Oral-B Glide dental floss was caught with a chemical inside their specialized dental floss that is linked to serious health issues, including infertility, low sperm quality, smaller penis size, weight gain, and lower vaccine effectiveness. Oral-B Glide dental floss is made with toxic PFAS chemicals according to a study by the Silent Sprint Institute in collaboration with the Public Health Institute in Berkeley, California. Because of the toxicity and persistence of PFAS chemicals, Mamavation is recommending that you immediately cease use of this dental floss and purchase a better brand.

We’ve got plenty of suggestions at the bottom of this post.

What Are PFAS Chemicals & Why Are They a Concern to Public Health

PFAS chemicals or per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances are water and grease-proof chemicals that we have become incredibly popular over decades. If you’ve heard of “Teflon,” “Gor-Tex,” or brands like “Stainmaster” carpet, you’ve already heard of them. You’ll find these chemicals in food packaging like popcorn bags, stain-resistant carpeting & clothing, camping equipment, nonstick cookware, and some personal care products like dental floss.

Companies producing PFAS chemicals swear by their safety and the brands that use state the same. But these chemicals are endocrine disrupting and extremely problematic to human health and the environment. And the worst part is they are persistent, meaning they build up and don’t go away. And because of all this, they have been linked to several health issues that your family doesn’t want.

Health impacts may include:

  • low sperm count
  • smaller penis size
  • reduction in immunity
  • metabolic diseases like obesity & diabetes
  • reduced vaccination response
  • ulcerative colitis
  • affect the growth, learning, and behavior of infants and older children
  • lower a woman’s chance of getting pregnant
  • interfere with the body’s natural hormones
  • increase cholesterol levels
  • increase the risk of cancer like testicular, prostate and breast cancers

Based on the persistence of this chemical inside the body, it’s incredibly dangerous to be exposed throughout a lifetime because it will continue to build up. Therefore, it’s important to avoid these chemicals as much as possible.

The Silent Spring Study Finding PFAS Chemicals in Dental Floss

New research published in the Journal of Exposure Science & Environmental Epidemiology offers insight into how PFAS chemicals are getting into the bodies of Americans and how they can limit their exposure.

This is the first study to show that using dental floss containing PFAS is associated with a higher body burden of these chemicals,” says lead author Katie Boronow from the Silent Spring Institute. “The good news is, based on our findings, consumers can choose flosses that don’t contain PFAS.”

Researchers measured 11 PFAS chemicals in the blood of 178 women using particle-induced γ-ray emission (PIGE) spectroscopy. These women were enrolled in the Public Health Institute’s Child Health and Developmental Studies, which has been studying the impact of environmental chemicals on disease in Americans. Half of these women were African American and half were non-Hispanic white women, but all were middle-aged. To first understand their habits, they were asked about nine different behaviors that could lead to higher exposure, including what brands they used. Then their urine was tested for several PFAS chemicals. It turned out, the women how used Oral-B Glide dental floss had a tendency to display to highest levels of PFAS chemicals, in particular, a chemical called PFHxS (perfluorohexanesulfonic acid).

The researchers then tested different dental flosses to get a better picture of what brands were the culprits. They tested 18 dental flosses, including 3 from Oral-B. All three Oral-B dental flosses tested positive for fluorine, as did two other store brands that were the generic form of Oral-B. Another floss touting itself as “single strand Teflon fiber” tested positive for fluorine as well.

Here’s a breakdown of their findings:

  • African American women had lower levels of perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) and perfluorohexanesulfonic acid (PFHxS) compared with non-Hispanic white women
  • African Americans, but not others, frequent consumption of prepared food in coated cardboard containers was associated with higher levels of four PFASs in their urine
  • Flossing with Oral-B Glide resulted in higher levels of PFAS in urine
  • Having stain-resistant carpet resulted in higher levels of PFAS in urine
  • Having stain-resistant furniture resulted in higher levels of PFAS in urine
  • Living in a city served by a PFAS-contaminated water supply were also associated with higher levels of some PFASs

Tips On How to Avoid PFAS In Your Home

The perfluorinated chemical category is all about making things grease-proof, water-proof and stain-proof. So think about stain-proof clothing & carpeting, nonstick pans & bakeware, fast food wrappers, contaminated water, etc. And here is a list of what you can do today to start avoiding these chemicals in your life.

  1. Phase out the nonstick cookware in your kitchen. Here are some alternatives.
  2. Avoid foods with packaging and make things yourself at home.
  3. Avoid fast food as much as possible, even the ones touting themselves as “better”.
  4. When purchasing furniture or carpet, decline optional treatments for stain and dirt resistance.
  5. Avoid buying clothing that bears a label indicating it’s water, stain or dirt repellant.
  6. Avoid buying personal care products with the phrase “fluoro” or “perfluoro” on the ingredient list. You’ll find this inside lotion, pressed powders, nail polish, dental floss and shaving cream.
  7. Dust more! PFAS chemicals stick to dust particles so the more dust you have in your home, the more likely you will have PFAS in the air you breathe. Click HERE  to learn more about cleaning up indoor air pollution.

Dental Floss Brands to Purchase & Avoid

Because we are telling you to toss your Oral-B Glide dental floss, you’re probably wondering what to switch to. So we evaluated the most popular brands so you can see which are best for your family. Dental floss can be problematic when coated with PFAS, fluoride, artificial flavors, or petroleum.

The Bad Guys

These brands have been tested by the Public Health Institute at Berkeley and PFAS chemicals were found inside. One brand with an * was transparent about the PFAS in their product on their website so we also linked them below.

  • Oral-B Glide Pro-Health Mint
  • Oral-B Glide Pro-Health Original
  • Colgate Total Dental Floss Mint
  • CVS Health SuperSlip Ease Between Waxed
  • Crest Glide Deep Clean Cool Mint Floss
  • Signature Care Mint Waxed Comfort Floss
  • GUM Eez-Thru Mint Floss*

The Better Guys

These brands contain either fluoride, petroleum, artificial flavors OR they don’t give you any information on what the product is made of. Brands that have been tested for PFAS and did not have any are marked with an *. We can’t be sure the other brands without an * don’t have PFAS, so buyer beware.

  • Listerine Cool Mint Floss*
  • CVS Unwaxed*
  • Reach Clean Paste Icy Mint Woven Floss*
  • Reach Mint Waxed*
  • Reach Waxed Unflavored*
  • Oral-B Complete Deep Clean Ultra Mint*
  • Oral-B Satin Floss Mint*
  • Rite-Aid Premium Waxed Mint Floss*
  • Dr. Collins PERIO High-Performance Dental Floss
  • Plackers
  • Dentex Fresh Clean Floss
  • Walgreens Dental Floss Extra Comfort
  • Familife Unflavored Dental Floss Pick
  • Dent Advance Premium Unwaxed Dental Floss

The Best Guys

These brands avoid most of the ingredients that could be problematic to your health or the health of the environment. Vegan brands likely use nylon, but we’ve included those as an option and they are marked with an *.

  • Desert Essence Tea Tree Oil Dental Tape
  • Toms of Maine Anti-Plaque Spearmint Floss
  • Eco-Dent*
  • Radius Natural Biodegradable Silk Floss
  • Radius Mint Floss with Natural Xylitol
  • Young Living Thieves Dental Floss
  • Mercola Dental floss
  • Dr. Gingers natural dental floss*
  • Theraneem Naturals dental floss*
  • eoFloss Woven Expanding Dental Floss
  • Woobamboo Eco-Awesome Biodegradable Silk Floss
  • Lucky Teeth Organic Bamboo Fibre with Activated Charcol Floss
  • Dr. Tungs Smart Floss
  • Coco Floss Coconut Infused Dental Floss
  • Dental Lace Silk Dental Floss

Thanks to the Mamavation team for the great investigation!

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