At our Seaside dental office, Dr. Santos is always happy to talk with patients about the importance of flossing. Flossing, after all, works to remove food particles and plaque from areas of our mouths a toothbrush cannot reach, between our teeth and below the gum line. But while flossing may do wonders for the health of our teeth, it can do equal damage to our sewer systems – which is just one of the reasons you should never flush your floss.
Where it Goes, No One Wants to Know
Our toilets at home are expertly designed with our hygiene and convenience in mind. Despite what we may think of when we hear of “flushing” something, our toilets don’t actually work as secondary trash cans or magic portals that makes things disappear.
By flushing paper towels, wet wipes, feminine products, Q-tips, and other daily household items you’re not simply throwing these things away, your causing potential problems that could damage your home and business like our Seaside dental office. These types of items end up clogging our pipes and pumps, causing problems at wastewater treatment plants like the one here in town off of 19th Ave.
In some extreme cases, these types of household items can even merge together with congealed fat, grease, oils, and waste to form despicable blobs known as fatbergs.
Just as old urban legends tell us of sewers filled with baby alligators that have grown to epic proportions, the toilet seems – for some people – to be where they dispose of everything. Wastewater treatment plant employees have reported finding everything from baseballs to lingerie to actual cash money flowing through our city sewers.
Admittedly, compared to the items we just mentioned, flushing a single strand of dental floss – which is made using thin strands of Teflon or nylon – probably seems innocent enough. So when heading off to bed, you probably don’t think much about tossing your used floss in the toilet as you turn off the lights.
Unfortunately, dental floss isn’t biodegradable – meaning that it doesn’t simply dissolve once it reaches its new watery home. Instead, floss can combine with toilet paper, clumps of hair, sanitary products, paper towels, and all the other unmentionable materials that routine get flushed down the toilet to form large clumps that clog pumps and sewers. These fatbergs can also join with grease and tree roots, cause sewage spills, and harm the motors used to power septic systems.
These types of problems aren’t just icky, they’re also incredibly expensive to correct. For smaller communities like ours, having to pay for such an unnecessary problem can be a serious drain on the city’s budget.
A Friendly Tip from Our Seaside Dental Office
Our goal isn’t to discourage anyone from floss, far from it. We simply hope to raise a little awareness about an otherwise easily avoidable problem.
Here in Oregon, we love to keep the focus on how we can improve our communities, our cities, and the planet as a whole. By keeping items like dental floss out of our sewer systems, we can make an easy, but useful, contribution to doing just that.
For a better idea of what other kinds of things should never go down our drains, check out this video created by our neighbors from the Spokane Department of Wastewater Management.