The top ten dental gifts for 2019
6th December 2019
Do you agree that there are only so many candle holders we need in our lives? And you gave socks… read more
Do away with dental floss forever?
Yes, you did read that correctly! But it doesn’t mean what you may be hoping!
Your dentist isn’t telling you not to floss.
Daily flossing really is good for our teeth, and overall oral health. We very much want you to keep on flossing.
What we also want you to do though, is think about the lifespan of your dental floss.
Yes, it’s usually there in the bathroom, and we either reach for it or ignore it. If we do use it, and we should, we soon realise that some types work better with our teeth than others.
What we need for good interdental cleaning is a product that is strong enough to withstand tension without breaking, slides comfortably between the spaces of our teeth, and glides out again without leaving frayed edges behind.
Unlike most products we use, dental floss has very little information about what it’s actually made from printed on the packet. So it’s worth finding out a little bit more.
The main ingredients of a length of ordinary dental floss varies, but they have one thing in common – they’re man-made from petro-chemicals.
There are two main types of dental floss:
In addition, artificial flavours may be added and the fibres may be waxed.
Yes, it is.
Because dental floss is make to withstand tension, and not to fray or break easily, that means it doesn’t disappear easily. Most lengths of floss will be around for at least another fifty years. Not thousands, at least, but in half a century it can still do some damage.
So we don’t want floss getting into the waterways, seas and oceans – there’s already enough plastics in there.
Take a look at this page from Southernwater to see how waste water is cleaned before it either gets turned into fertiliser, or sent back into our freshwater supplies. The system depends on powerful pumps to work well. If dental floss is thrown down the toilet, or lost down the basin, then it combines with hair and other gunk to damage the pumps as well as clog the pipes.
The best way to dispose of dental floss is in the household waste that goes into land fill. For most of us, that means the grey bin. So throw it into the bin you have near the washbasin, so it should end up in the best place for rest of its years.
But, at the same time, it’s worth remembering there are also a lot of single use plastics from the bathroom that need to make it out to the recycling bin. That includes the small plastic container that most dental floss rolls come in. We’re used to two or three disposal bins in our kitchens now but not many of us are so organised in our bathrooms. It should be time we change that.
There’s an increasing variety of both silk and bamboo dental floss on the market these days, sold in either biodegradable packaging or reusable cannisters made from glass or metal. In fact, the first commercial rolls of dental floss produced during the nineteenth century were made of silk but nylon took over as the cheaper, stronger alternative in the 1940s. These days silk is still the more expensive product, and there are considerations about how the silk is harvested. Bamboo, however, has great potential, with it’s sustainability credentials and anti-bacterial properties.
We do need to think about how we dispose of the oral hygiene products we use.
We know it’s not possible to throw that piece of dental floss away forever – it’s going to exist in our environment for the next fifty years at leat. But we can be mindful and dispose of it responsibly. Moreover, we can reuse or recycle other containers too. It’s time to get creative with those mouthwash bottles and nylon toothbrushes!
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