Is floss biodegradable? (3 types of biodegradable dental floss)

This article shall answer the question, “is floss biodegradable”. It shall also cover other areas such as:

  • Definition of flossing.
  • Types of dental diseases.
  • Diseases associated with dental plaque.
  • Eco-friendliness of dental floss.

Is floss biodegradable?

Yes, floss made from natural products like silk, or bamboo is easily broken down by microbial degradation into small harmless particles.

However, the majority of floss is made from nylon, a synthetic petroleum plastic that is non-biodegradable and therefore contributes to landfill and water pollution.

The choice of floss will depend on the user and their dental health.

When looking for a piece of floss, and its environmental effects, one can look at the packaging and the floss itself.

Some floss is packaged in glass or more durable plastic, these materials are reusable and therefore help in maintaining a clean environment.

What is flossing?

Flossing is a method of cleaning the spaces between teeth using a thin filament cord. The purpose is to remove food and dental plaque from between the teeth.

Flossing helps remove bacteria from between teeth that would otherwise cause diseases like gingivitis.

Dental plaque.

This is a film of microorganisms such as bacteria and fungi that grows on mouth surfaces, mostly between the teeth.

It is usually sticky and colorless at first but develops into brown or yellow with time. It is mostly found between teeth, on the front teeth, the canines, and the incisors, behind teeth, and in supragingival and subgingival areas.

The build-up of dental plaque over a long period will increase the population of bacteria and fungi and therefore cause tooth decay due to fermentation by the microorganisms.

Dental plaque as mentioned before is mostly made up of bacteria. The most common type is streptococcus mutans and other aerobes like fusobacterium and actinobacteria.

Streptococcus mutans contain the glucan sucrase enzymes that convert sucrose into sticky polysaccharide which is used by other bacterial species to survive on teeth and form a mass of plaque.

Consequences of dental plaque.

The buildup of bacteria and fungi to form the plague film may have dire consequences for the teeth.

Plaque may result in the following dental diseases.

Gingivitis.

When the population of the microorganisms around the teeth buildup, they cause the inflammation of the gingival tissue; a condition called gingivitis.

The inflammation of the gingivitis tissue is characterized by red and puffy gums, and bleeding of the gums after brushing.

Gingivitis caused by a high population of microorganisms on teeth can be reversed by getting rid of the plaque through flossing and brushing.

However, when the plaque is left to build up, it may cause the gingivitis to spread to other tissues and cause other diseases like periodontitis.

Periodontitis.

This is a gum infection that leads to bone destruction around the teeth.

It occurs after a long infection of gingivitis. The bacteria and fungi in the plaque release enzymes which digest bones around the teeth leading to bone breakdown.

Other diseases are associated with periodontitis.

When the bacterial population increases due to periodontitis, the bacteria may attack other tissues distant from the teeth.

The bacteria are taken to these distant tissues mostly through the respiratory and circulatory systems. The bacteria can cause some illnesses like:

  • Atheroma-  this is an abnormal accumulation of materials in the inner layer of the arterial wall.

The materials are mostly macrophage cells and elements such as calcium, lipids, and other connective tissues from bacterial plaque.

Accumulation of these materials may lead to narrowing of the arterial lumen, leading to a condition called atherosclerosis, a subtype of arteriosclerosis.

The signs and symptoms of atheroma include:

  • The enlargement of the arteries.
  • The plaque in arteries may rupture leading to the release of debris and clots and these can be detected by angiogram.

The disease may also cause heart attacks.

  • Cardiovascular disease- is a group of diseases that involve the heart and blood vessels.

It includes diseases such as coronary artery diseases such as angina and myocardial infarction ( heart attack), stroke, heart failure, hypertensive heart disease, rheumatic heart disease, cardiomyopathy, abnormal heart rates, periphery heart disease, carditis, thromboembolic disease, venous thrombosis, valvular heart disease, congenital heart disease, and aortic aneurysm.

Signs and symptoms vary depending on the disease.

  • Peripheral artery disease- the disease of blood vessels supplying blood to the legs and arms.
  • Cerebrovascular disease- a disease that affects blood vessels taking blood to the brain, including stroke.
  • Cardiomyopathy- this is a disease of cardiac muscles.
  • Hypertensive heart disease- this is a disease of the heart, due to blood pressure and hypertension.
  • Heart failure- this is a disease that results in the heart being unable to pump enough blood to the tissues.
  • Pulmonary heart disease- a failure at the right side of the heart with the respiratory system.
  • Cardiac dysrhythmia- this is an abnormality of heart rhythm.
  • Endocarditis- This is the inflammation of the inner layer of the heart, the endocardium.
  • Myocarditis- this is the inflammation of the myocardial muscles of the heart due to bacteria and viral attacks.
  • Respiratory disease- this is a group of diseases that affect the lungs and other tissues involved in the gaseous exchange in the body.

The diseases affect the trachea, bronchi, bronchioles, alveoli, pleurae, pleural cavity, the nervous system, and the muscles involved in respiration.

Different types of respiratory diseases include common cold, influenza, pharyngitis, bacterial pneumonia, tuberculosis, pulmonary embolism, acute asthma, and lung cancer. 

  • Diabetes mellitus- is a metabolic disorder that results in high blood sugar levels ( hyperglycemia) over a long time.

It contains symptoms such as frequent urination, increased thirst, and increased appetite.

If left unchecked, it can lead to serious repercussions like death or chronic diseases like stroke, chronic kidney disease, foot ulcers, damage to the nervous system, eye damage, cardiovascular disease, and cognitive impairment.

Diabetes mellitus can be a result of the pancreas not producing enough insulin which converts excess sugars into glycogen or the body cells not responding to the insulin produced by the pancreas.

There are three types of diabetes mellitus:

  • Type 1 diabetes mellitus- this results from the failure of the pancreas to produce enough insulin.
  • Type 2 diabetes mellitus- this results from body cells not being able to respond to insulin, therefore leading to insulin resistance.
  • Gestational diabetes mellitus- occurs in pregnant women who do not have a previous history of diabetes. This condition 

is rectified after giving birth.

What are the types of biodegradable dental floss?

There are many types of dental floss, made from different materials.

Most dental flosses are made from nylon, a non-biodegradable petroleum plastic.

For an eco-friendly floss for a better environment, it is good to try these dental floss:

Etee.

Etee dental floss is made from minted waxed silk. It is highly durable and has good thickness. 

It is purely made from mulberry silk and coated with candelilla wax to give it a gentle touch.

It comes with a glass container that can easily be reused over a long time.

Lucky teeth.

Lucky teeth are made from bamboo fiber which is biodegradable and Eco-friendly.

The floss also contains activated charcoal for extra dental cleaning and teeth whitening. It also contains organic tea tree oil and organic peppermint which is essential for killing bacteria.

EcoRoots vegan floss.

This floss is made from very biodegradable cornstarch fiber.

The floss is also coated with candelilla wax derived from plants to help it have a smooth touch.

It contains organic tea trees and mint oils to soothe the gums and keep the mouth fresh.

Georganics.

This dental floss is made from natural silk, waxes, and flavorings. The formula is also free of any additives like phthalates and sulfates which could be toxic to the user when used over a long period.

Is dental floss eco-friendly?

Yes, the eco-friendliness of dental floss hugely depends on the material from which it is made.

Natural biodegradable materials like cornstarch, silk, and bamboo make dental floss that is biodegradable and therefore eco-friendly.

According to a study, Floss made from nylon polymers is non-biodegradable and therefore when disposed of to the environment, they lead to landfills and water pollution.

Conclusion.

This article has answered the question, “is floss biodegradable?”.

It has also covered other areas such as:

  • Types of biodegradable floss.
  • Dental diseases due to unflossed teeth.
  • Eco-friendliness of dental floss.

For any questions or comments please use the comment section below.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs): is floss biodegradable?

Is floss plastic?

Yes, most types of floss are made from nylon plastic, although there are other types of floss made from biodegradable products such as silk, cornstarch, and bamboo fiber.

What do you do with expired dental floss?

There is no exact date for the expiry of dental floss. However, it should be replaced when it has been used for a long time because it will lose its efficiency.

How often should you floss?

The American dental association recommends one time flossing a day, and perhaps two times brushing in a day.

Citations.

Bauroth K, Charles CH, Mankodi SM, Simmons BS, Zhao Q, Kumar LD (2003). “The efficacy of an essential oil antiseptic mouth rinse vs. dental floss in controlling interproximal gingivitis”. Journal of the American Dental Association. 134 (3): 359–365. doi:10.14219/jada.archive.2003.0167

Berchier CE, Slot DE, Haps S, van der Weijden GA (2008). “The efficacy of dental floss in addition to a toothbrush on plaque and parameters of gingival inflammation: a systematic review”. International Journal of Dental Hygiene. 6 (4): 265–279. doi:10.1111/j.1601-5037.2008.00336

Research, Science and Therapy Committee of the American Academy of Periodontology (2001). “Treatment of Plaque-Induced Gingivitis, Chronic Periodontitis, and Other Clinical Conditions”. Journal of Periodontology. 72 (12): 1790–1800. doi:10.1902/jop.2001.72.12.1790

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