Plastic. It’s everywhere, in almost everything. It’s certainly in your bathroom, used to make oral care items like toothbrushes, dental floss, and toothpaste tubes. All of these items are essential for having a clean, healthy smile, and yet all of them, unfortunately, are non-recyclable.
The good news is that you don’t have to be part of the problem. More and more people are joining the zero-waste moving, striving to only use items that are biodegradable, compostable, and plastic-free. Below are some simple swaps you can make to ensure you have healthy teeth and a healthy planet.
Each year, over one billion toothbrushes are thrown away in the US alone. That’s 50 million pounds of non-recyclable plastic waste, or enough toothbrushes to wrap around the world four times.
Luckily, many companies make bamboo toothbrushes, which can be tossed in a compost bin to decompose naturally. Since bamboo is a material which grows very quickly (many people consider it to be a weed), bamboo products are usually very inexpensive. The only drawback is the bristles: most bamboo toothbrushes use plastic bristles, which must be pulled out before you can compost the handle. If you want a fully-organic toothbrush, your best option is one that uses boar’s hair bristles.
Silk Dental Floss
Most commercial dental floss is made of nylon, Teflon, or some other synthetic petroleum compound. One great, organic material that can take the place of dental floss is silk, which is spun from silkworms. You might rummage through your local secondhand store to find a 100% silk clothing article, and repurpose the threads for floss. You can also purchase silk thread from art supply stores, but these will usually arrive in plastic packaging. The most convenient, waste-free method is to purchase thread from a brand like Dental Lace. This company packages its floss in recyclable glass vials with metal lids. When you’ve used up your floss, you can send the vial back to the company, and they’ll fill it with new product.
There are countless recipes for toothpaste on the internet, the vast majority of them involving baking soda and/or bentonite clay. As an abrasive substance that scrubs away plaque, baking soda is an acceptable material. But if you decide to go this route, make sure to include xylitol in your mix. Despite the pharmaceutical-sounding name, xylitol is a natural sweetener extracted from birch wood and certain fruits and vegetables. Xylitol is unique among sweeteners because it acts as a sort of “mousetrap” for the bacteria that live on your teeth, effectively killing them.
In addition, you can also purchase fluoride powder, which strengthens your tooth enamel. Both of these products will likely arrive in plastic packaging that may or may not be recyclable. However, just one bag of each is enough for a lifetime’s supply of homemade toothpaste—versus countless non-recyclable toothpaste tubes.
Need a Dental Exam in Apex? Stop by Hansen Dentistry!
We hope this blog post has helped you learn ways to live a greener, low-waste lifestyle while still taking care of your oral health. Doing so will help keep the actual teeth in your mouth free of artificial substances like composite resin, which, while a good replacement for your natural enamel, isn’t as great as the real thing! Having regular dental cleanings every 6 months is the best way to ensure long-term dental health, which means less waste and less expense on your part! To schedule a dental cleaning with our Apex dentist, click here.