Thursday, January 21, 2010

To Floss or Not to Floss - That is NOT the Question

I never used to floss. See, I hated my teeth. Hated. I was a tetracycline baby. When I was born, I was very sick, and they stuffed me full of the common antibiotic, tetracycline. They don't give that to babies anymore, because it has an effect on developing bones and teeth. I and many many other people therefore have "tetracycline-stained" teeth. They aren't really "stained" because it's IN the tooth, but our teeth are grey or brown or look like marble or like we smoke 10 packs a day with tea and coffee. So my teeth looked dingy, and I hated them, and there was nothing I could do short of re-doing my whole mouth with lots and lots of money. I didn't care if they fell right out of my head. I brushed them, but that was it. Dentists warned, but I didn't care. I didn't pay any attention to dental floss.

But now, I have a mouth full of pearly-whites. Well, porcelain whites. Every single tooth I have is covered in a beautiful little snug jacket of porcelain. And I love them. I love them so much and I want to protect them. They are pretty pretty pretty and they were EXPENSIVE. So now, I floss! I never had a lot of practice at it, and maybe I'm not that good; but, darn it, I am not the idiot that apparently most of us are when it comes to using floss.

Oh, we've all seen the commercials. I'm talking about FLOSS PICKS here. You know, those little plastic prong-fork-handle thingies with a tiny bit of floss threaded on them? SO handy! SO helpful! SO EASY TO USE!!! Screw regular floss! That's far too hard to use! We can't be bothered by that! We've become too stupid to possibly handle using regular floss!!

Come on, they didn't really say that. Did they? Yes, they pretty much did. We have to simplify floss because we are now at risk of getting tangled up in it if we try to use it. We're just that dumb... and in they came. I have friends who swear by those things. I see people using them ALL the time. Well it's just so darned convenient! We might not think of flossing in public, but gosh dang it these are really just fancy toothpicks and those are publically accepted, right? Um, eww! And then I see them discarded on streets and sidewalks... little plastic grossities with tooth-junk on them. I feel the same as if I saw a discarded condom.

This is yet another example of how we simply adopt a so-called convenience without really thinking of the environmental consequences. Do we NEED these floss picks? No. We DO NOT. We can go into the bathroom after lunch and do a proper flossing with regular floss that, sure, comes in a plastic container, but is really much much less plastic over the life of the product. There are natural flosses out there... my good friends at Radius Toothbrush have a delightful floss, and their company is very green. There is nothing good or redeeming or necessary about plastic floss picks. They need to go away.

There is ONE company I saw while researching... among the Oral-B and Crest products, there is a pick made by Den-Tek that is a compostable material made from starch, NOT plastic. That's better. Not the best, but much better. There are still problems to be addressed with the starch products, in that they can be mistaken for plastic and ruin a batch of recycling. But it's a step anyway. Maybe if you cannot figure out how to use real floss, you can try those instead of the plastic ones. Just please dispose of them properly. It's really gross when they are just laying there on the ground.