woman smiling while using a dental floss in front of her bathroom mirror

Is Dental Floss Eco-Friendly?

Published date field Last Updated:

Medically Reviewed By Colgate Global Scientific Communications

Daily interdental cleaning is essential for a healthy mouth, but what impact does single-use floss have on the environment? If you’re looking for more eco-friendly products to introduce to your healthcare routines, there are a few alternatives to the floss you’re probably used to that still allow you to practice good oral health.

Why Flossing Is Important

Interdental cleaning promotes gum health by preventing dental biofilm—or plaque—from building up between your teeth. Dental floss, floss picks, and water flossers can reach areas your toothbrush can’t—lowering your risk of developing tooth decay and gum diseases such as gingivitis.

What Is Dental Floss Made Of?

Dental floss is typically made from synthetic waxed nylon or Teflon. The mixed materials used in traditional floss make recycling too difficult–some research suggests it can take 80 years to break down in a landfill. Plastic dental floss picks are also made of mixed materials that are too small to recycle.

Can Dental Floss Be Reused?

The American Dental Association does not recommend reusing dental floss. Multiple uses of nylon floss can cause it to fray and transfer bacteria and food particles to your mouth.

Eco-friendly Dental Floss Alternatives

There are plenty of environmentally conscious alternatives you can purchase without sacrificing your oral health. Companies have developed recyclable toothpaste tubes and programs that recycle dental floss containers. Cardboard and other biodegradable materials are also becoming more commonly used in dental floss containers.

Some eco-friendly interdental floss options include:

  • Silk floss
  • All-natural dental floss made from plants and bees’ wax
  • Bamboo floss made with charcoal-infused polyester
  • Reusable floss picks made from recycled paper
  • Water flossers

Making the transition to zero waste isn’t easy. Just know, there are green alternatives out there and small actions you can take to lessen your carbon footprint on the planet.

Oral Care Center articles are reviewed by an oral health medical professional. This information is for educational purposes only. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your dentist, physician or other qualified healthcare provider. 

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