Is Glide floss safe?

I saw it first on my Facebook feed some months ago, something about Glide containing harmful chemicals and not being good to use.

What’s the real story?

It turns out that a study published back in January found compounds called PFAS in the bodies of people who flossed with Glide.

What’s a PFAS

Per - and polyfluoroalkyl substances – PFAS – are man-made chemicals that repel oil and water. They’re found in things as diverse as non-stick cookware (e.g., Teflon), fast food containers, stain-resistant carpet, weatherproof clothing, and …. Glide floss.  They’ve been around since the 1940’s and can accumulate in our bodies and stay around a long time.

Are they harmful

PFAS, according to https://www.epa.gov/pfas/basic-information-pfas, have been linked to increased cholesterol levels.  There are limited findings that they may have immunological, hormonal and reproductive effects also.  And one compound, PFOA, has been linked to cancer.  Research is ongoing and there is concern because these are “forever chemicals” – they linger in our bodies, in our drinking water, and in the environment.  https://www.consumerreports.org/toxic-chemicals-substances/pfas-chemicals-should-you-be-concerned/

The study in question, published in the Journal of Exposure Science and Environmental Epidemiology, measured levels of PFAS in the blood of 178 women and looked at their habits, which in some cases included using Glide.  There is no way to know whether the PFAS were there because of flossing, using non-stick fry pans, ordering take-out pizzas, or any other activity.  And, more importantly, the study says nothing about the effects these chemical compounds had on the subjects’ health. 

Glide was developed to make it easy to slip floss between tight teeth.  It does just that. The benefits of flossing are great in stemming inflammation and gum disease.  Whether PFAS accumulate in the body because of using Glide is still unproven. 

Could you use a different type of PFAS-free floss instead?  Yes, absolutely.  If your teeth are really tight, there are other alternatives that may still be “slippery” enough to get between your teeth. We can give you samples at the office.

The important thing is to keep flossing.