Look in your medicine cabinet and around your sink, and what do you see? Your toothbrush is made of plastic, the tube your toothpaste comes in is as well, and of course, there’s the disposable floss case with its nylon contents. To top it off, your mouthwash also comes in a heavy plastic bottle that’s usually just tossed out after you’re done with the contents, along with your toothbrush, toothpaste tube, and floss container. Now consider that nearly everyone in the world has these same things around their bathroom, and it becomes clear that brushing our teeth produces an immense amount of plastic waste. Luckily, there are choices you can make to make brushing a little more environmentally friendly.
How To Be Eco-Friendly While Promoting Excellent Oral Health
Our entire dental health care routine is pretty wasteful, especially if we replace our toothbrush as often as we should. The American Dental Association put forth guidelines that tell us how to take care of our teeth, but they don’t go into the disposal of our tools or how to limit our impact on the environment. The following four steps will help you reduce the amount of impact you have without making any changes to the tools you use:
- Cut off the tap after wetting your toothbrush
- Don’t rinse immediately after brushing; just spit out excess toothpaste
- Floss while you still have toothpaste foam, it helps clean between your teeth better.
- Rinse and wash out your mouth without leaving the tap running.
These few steps alone would save millions of gallons of water a day if everyone followed them. If you pay for your water, consider that it also reduces the amount of water you use each month by as much as 4-8 gallons per person in your household. If there are four people in your house, that’s up to nearly 1000 gallons of water.
Another major cause of waste from dental care is floss and floss containers. You may have considered looking for a reusable alternative, but the risk of spreading cavity-causing bacteria back into your mouth makes this a poor solution. However, you can find dental floss that’s made from mulberry silk that is completely biodegradable and thus safe for the environment when you dispose of it. Traditional nylon floss can remain in the environment for over 80 years, and that’s without considering the floss case itself.
When it comes to your toothbrush, you may be considering an electric option with a removable head. While the removable head does limit the amount of plastic going into the environment since you only replace this part when you need a whole new unit, that battery is going straight into the landfill. Far better is to invest in a bamboo toothbrush. Bamboo can grow easily, sustainably and has a limited negative impact on the environment. While environmentally friendly plastics are being developed, bamboo remains the best possible option for now.
Speak To Your Dentist For Further Advice
The best place to go for advice for a sustainable routine is your dentist. They’ll have guidance for you regarding selecting products that are both effective and endorsed by the ADA and are also environmentally sustainable. Having a beautiful smile doesn’t need to include damaging our environment; find out what you can do to help keep our world beautiful today!