Yesterday I read an article about how Oral B Glide dental floss is coated in PFASs (think Teflon) that makes the dental floss slippery. A recent study (https://www.nature.com/articles/s41370-018-0109-y) in the Journal of Exposure Science & Environmental Epidemiology found a link between using this floss and the presence of PFASs in the body. It made me so mad because I am very careful about examining the ingredients in all the healthcare products I use, but I had never even considered evaluating the ingredients in dental floss. I was making my own soap and lotion and deodorant, only to find out that I've been flossing my teeth with a carcinogen.
Today I've been thinking about alternatives to store bought dental floss. Obviously I could use a different brand, but then I went down the rabbit hole of wondering why do I need all that plastic packaging? Why am I putting gobs of string in landfills every year? Why am I spending money on SKINNY STRING? I don't know why I've never questioned it before.
So now I am wondering if there is a plant you could grow in your yard that would consistently produce long, thin fibers. I figure a person could coat it in beeswax if needed. Then after you floss, you could simply toss it in your compost pile or even just your yard. Optimally this plant would not require excessive processing to turn into floss, and would produce consistently thin fibers. Does anyone have any ideas?
I have some lace weight linen thread that might be appropriate. Raven (one of our moderators) has a lot of posts about growing linen. You missed the kickstarter for her book that covers every step from growing the flax to weaving the cloth, but I believe it will soon be available through other means.
There is a store near me in Frankfort, Kentucky, called The Woolery (https://woolery.com). They sell linen fiber (they call it flax). Next time I'm in Frankfort I'll swing by, pick some up, and see if I think it has any potential. If it doesn't work as dental floss, I'd still have fun trying to spin it into yarn. I talked to a worker there on the phone. She said that out of all the fibers they sell, she suspects the flax would work the best as floss. If it actually works I'll probably plant some. Thanks again for the suggestion!
Another you might try is nettle. There's lots on this site about nettle, and from what I understand, the processing shares commonalities across many different types of plant fibre.
You could also think about perennials that grow sweet, fibrous twigs. I know spruce is a favourite in some parts of the world, or it used to be in the days before tooth brushes and floss. Just snap off a twig and chew the broken end.
Honestly, flossing shouldn't really be necessary. I never did, and rarely do now, and all the dentist said when I finally found one I liked was that I had great teeth, negative decay (?), but that my gums need attention. Between paying more attention to my gumline and rinsing with salt and soda in water, I have reversed the damage in under a year. For me, the only time I need it is to resolve physical discomfort caused by, usually, popcorn hulls stuck between teeth or under the gum.
But let us know how things go for you. I'm sure this is right up the alley of a lot of people on this site. Good luck.
A human being should be able to change a diaper, plan an invasion, butcher a hog, conn a ship, design a building, write a sonnet, balance accounts, build a wall, set a bone, comfort the dying, take orders, give orders, cooperate, act alone, solve equations, analyze a new problem, pitch manure, program a computer, cook a tasty meal, fight efficiently, die gallantly. Specialization is for insects.
-Robert A. Heinlein
I kind of freaked out, too, when I realized most floss is coated with teflon. THere are still some coated with wax (though the wax is probably mostly petrolum-based).
The floss I now buy (Dr. Tung's Smart Floss) is made with plant fibers and coated with beeswax. I don't like that it's packaged in plastic, but at least the plastic isn't touching my mouth. I think there's also a silk floss out there, somewhere, but I can't remember what it's called (I just remember it was really expensive).
As for needing or not needing floss, I think it might depend largely on one's diet and the closeness of one's teeth. I have a tiny mouth and my teeth are all crammed together (despite orthodontia AND having two adult teeth pulled), so if I don't floss, my gums suffer and I have stuff stuck between my teeth, which just isn't pleasant.
I think it's far better to grow/make one's own floss...but right now I barely have time to floss, let alone make it. Hopefully in a few years, when my kids are a bit older, I can try doing that!
I take dental hygiene very seriously so was frustrated a few years ago when they questioned what I was using for floss at my cleaning appointment. Turns out there was a general consensus that Glide floss feels nice but is ineffective. I switched to an unwaxed kind that then stopped being made. Since then I also switched to Dr Tungs and like it. You can get a big box through Amazon.
I also need to floss because of my some unique spaces but going whole food plant based generally made my teeth very clean. Now at my cleanings we spend more time talking after she tells me she doesn't feel like she is doing much. 😊 ( I am going to watch longer between visits now.)