For something we do always twice a day for our whole lifetime, our dental care routine oftentimes goes overlooked. It’s very important we protect our teeth, gums, and overall oral hygiene, but this does not have to come at a cost to our health or the environment. Plastic pollution is a global problem. One simple way to reduce your plastic waste is by using eco-friendly dental products.
So, what are some benefits of using eco-friendly dental products?
1. Prevent Plastic Waste
Think about your dental care routine in the morning and evening. You may even brush after every meal. What products are you using and putting in your mouth?
A plastic toothbrush, toothpaste in a plastic bottle, mouthwash in a plastic bottle, nylon (plastic-derived) dental floss in a plastic case. Do you catch my drift?
Every time you consume these products, they need to be thrown out as waste. Yes, some plastics are recyclable but often times items like toothbrushes, dental floss, and tubes are unable to be recycled due to their size or plastic-type. This sends them straight into the environment to sit in a landfill or enter our waterways. By switching to an eco-friendly dental product like a bamboo toothbrush, you are preventing what would otherwise be another piece of plastic from rotting in a landfill.
2. A Chemical-Free Mouth
Before toothbrushes and toothpaste were the norms, humans used rough cloths and twigs with water and rubbed salt and chalk across their teeth to get rid of the dirt and grime. Sound primitive? Maybe, but nowadays it seems perfectly normal to rub chemicals across our teeth with hard plastic instruments.
The truth is, some plastic toothbrushes still contain BPA (bisphenol-A). Chances are you have heard of this before, as it’s a chemical that can be found in many hard plastics. It has been shown to affect the reproductive systems of lab animals. The jury is still out for exposure to humans but it’s not a risk many consumers and producers are willing to take. A good brushing of your teeth should leave you feeling refreshed, rather than leave you with the doubt of potentially toxic microparticles of plastic in your mouth.
Now there’s no need to go foraging for sticks in your backyard or start creating a salt and chalk concoction in an effort to return to mother nature. But there still is the choice to stay smart and chemical-free by using an eco-friendly bamboo toothbrush or an all-natural toothpaste.
3. A Natural Clean
Have you ever tried an all-natural and completely organic toothpaste? An eco-friendly toothpaste will give you a natural flavor and a natural cleansing for your teeth. Natural ingredients include those derived from mineral clay, sea salt, and plant extracts. There are many natural toothpaste brands that contain fluoride and also those without (fluoride-free).
Many natural toothpaste brands produce their toothpaste with a drier and rougher consistency in paste or powder form. This will allow your toothpaste to last much longer rather than squeezing out the last globs of toothpaste from your standard plastic tube.
4. Protect Marine Life
Sadly, standard dental floss is simply waxed up nylon put inside a small plastic box. Nylon is actually a plastic that is derived from petroleum. Due to its size, it makes it very difficult to be recycled. Instead of getting recycled, it ends up in our landfills and will take years upon years to decompose. If it doesn’t end up in a landfill, it can end up in our oceans.
Nylon can often be mistaken for food by birds or marine life. Or even worse, because nylon is extremely tear-proof, it can cause fish or animals to get caught and suffer in a tricky web of nylon. An eco-friendly dental floss will prevent this as it will be made from natural silk or bamboo which is compostable and plastic-free. Many brands offer eco-friendly dental floss which comes in a glass vile or case, so it can also be upcycled.
But what about floss picks? Sure they are handy, convenient, and great for flossing at your desk, however, single-use floss picks are also made from plastic and not exactly an eco-friendly alternative that will help reduce your plastic waste.
5. A Cleaner Mouthwash
Everyone loves to have a great smelling breath. Every time we visit our dentist, they encourage us to use mouthwash after each brush and we always follow orders. The problem is, what chemicals are we putting into our mouths when we swig, slosh, and gargle for minutes on end?
Many common mouthwash brands contain petrochemicals, fake dyes, artificial sweeteners, preservatives, petrochemicals, anti-bacterial chemicals, and harsh alcohol. The list goes on and on. Triclosan, an anti-bacterial chemical, is currently the subject of ongoing studies regarding its health and safety.
By switching to an eco-friendly mouthwash, you keep the synthetic chemicals out of your mouth. An eco-friendly mouthwash should contain ingredients that are only all-natural, non-toxic, and alcohol-free. Flavoring has a natural taste and comes from essential oils such as peppermint, cinnamon, witch hazel, or spearmint. If you have children, an eco-friendly all-natural is a must safe and secure non-toxic household.
Not only is using eco-friendly dental care products guilt-free but also lighter on the wallet. When I first discovered an eco-friendly bamboo toothbrush, I was sure that it would be much more expensive than buying a pack of plastic toothbrushes at the local drugstore.
The many brands that produce bamboo toothbrushes are smaller and independent companies, so they are readily available from online retailers making them more affordable than conventional plastic toothbrushes. The same goes for eco-friendly brands that produce eco-friendly toothpaste, mouthwash, and dental floss.
In the United States alone it’s estimated that around one billion plastic toothbrushes end up in landfills each year. These modern plastic toothbrushes are made from different plastics including high-density polyethylene and nylon, neither of which are biodegradable.
A bamboo toothbrush is not only made from a naturally antibacterial material but it’s fully biodegradable, meaning you can toss the handle into the compost without the worry of pollution. A bamboo toothbrush handle takes 6 months to decompose whereas a plastic toothbrush will take decades. As far as the bristles are concerned, these will have to be separated and thrown out as most are made from nylon. This results in less than .01 ounces of plastic waste. A pretty big improvement in reducing your plastic waste!
8. Safe for Your Furry Friend
Calling all pet owners. Brushing your dog’s teeth can never be a fun chore for both you and your furry loved one. But oral care for dogs is essential in preventing diseases which can lead to high costs at the vet.
An eco-friendly pet-safe bamboo toothbrush a natural option for taking care of your loved one’s dental needs. Since it’s made from 100% bamboo, there is no need to worry about chipping any potentially toxic plastic. While you brush away and they can bite and play their way to clean and healthy teeth.
9. Fun for the Family
Using a new toothbrush or toothpaste can add a little excitement to your old mouth care routine. I know children will always be excited to use a cute and colorful bamboo toothbrush or try a new eco-friendly toothpaste with a new flavor. It also serves up the valuable opportunity to educate your family on plastic pollution and how we can each do our part to create a more eco-friendly and sustainable environment.
I agree, your dental care routine is an ever-important part of your overall health, but it shouldn’t have to come at a cost to the environment. More and more independent brands are popping up with a commitment to eco-friendly living and sustainability, which makes the switch even easier as a consumer. Some small switches for your morning and evenings in the bathroom the can go a long way for your health and the environment. It may even open more opportunities for you to seek new alternatives for eco-friendly living.