Polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE), widely known by its trade name Teflon, is a unique material that has found its way into a plethora of applications. One application that might not be readily apparent but is deeply intertwined with our daily lives is its use in dental floss.

PTFE Floss – The Unsung Hero?

Often described as the ‘Gore-Tex’ material of dental floss, PTFE features prominently in many dental floss varieties. Unsurprisingly, its unique properties lend themselves superbly to dental hygiene. It has an impressive ability to glide smoothly between teeth, reaching areas that ordinary floss may struggle to cleanse. This slickness, coupled with its unrivaled shred resistance, makes it a popular choice, especially for those with tight contacts and sensitive gums. Brand names like Oral-B, for instance, have incorporated PTFE in their ‘Glide’ range to great effect.

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Moreover, PTFE shares a robust resistance with moisture. This hydrophobic attribute, combined with an inherent strength and unrivaled smoothness, enables PTFE floss to outshine traditional nylon floss, reducing the occurrence of snapping or fraying strands.

The PTFE Controversy

Despite its many advantages, the widespread use of PTFE in floss isn’t without controversy. Several studies suggest an association between PTFE-coated dental floss and increased blood serum levels for polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFASs), potential carcinogens linked to kidney and testicular cancer. While the extent of these effects remains hotly debated and requires further research, these studies have undoubtedly cast doubt on the unrivaled ascendancy of PTFE floss.

Moreover, the environmental impact of PTFE and other PFAS chemicals has come under scrutiny. Given their durability and persistence in the environment, concern is growing about their contribution to environmental pollution.

PTFE Floss VS Traditional Dental Floss

Compared to traditional nylon floss, Polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE) floss carries several distinctive advantages:

dental tape

Superior Glide

PTFE floss is smoother and softer than its nylon counterpart, enabling it to glide more effortlessly between tightly packed teeth and along gum lines, which can be especially beneficial for those with tightly spaced teeth.

Shred Resistance

PTFE floss is resistant to shredding or breaking, even in tight gaps or rough dental surfaces, ensuring a comfortable, smooth, and efficient cleaning experience. On the other hand, nylon floss can sometimes fray or snap between tight contacts or sharp tooth edges.

Better Adaptation

PTFE floss is more adaptable to the shape of each tooth and can effectively remove plaque and food particles with less risk of causing discomfort or gum bleeding.

Fit for Sensitive Gums

The overall gentle texture of PTFE floss makes it a suitable choice for those who have delicate or sensitive gums, as it is less likely to cause irritation or inflammation during flossing.

Versatile Use

Unlike nylon floss which can come waxed or unwaxed, PTFE floss is inherently slippery, proving it to be more comfortable to use for a wider range of users regardless of their preference.

Although PTFE floss carries certain environmental concerns due to its non-biodegradable nature, the benefits from the user’s perspective – mainly focusing on comfort, ease of use, and efficiency – are distinctive and noteworthy.

Striking a Balance

Despite the potential risks associated with PTFE floss, it is worth noting that the scientific consensus is far from unanimous. There is still a lack of definitive evidence connecting the use of PTFE dental floss to specific health issues. It is crucial, then, to balance the undeniable benefits of PTFE floss against its potential risks. One must bear in mind the general rule of dental care – the best type of floss is the one that is used daily.


As the dental industry evolves, the choice of floss material becomes more diverse. While PTFE floss may offer many benefits, challenges regarding its safety and environmental impact cannot be overlooked. As consumers, we must stay informed and make choices that are not only best for our health but also sustainable for our planet.

In sum, the intriguing narrative of PTFE in dental floss serves as a revelation of the complexities surrounding even the simplest everyday items. It underscores the importance of continued research and regulatory scrutiny in safeguarding our health and environment while reaping the benefits of technological advancements. As we navigate this intricate narrative, the ultimate goal remains consistent: to ensure effective and safe dental hygiene.