Updated: Apr 17, 2020
Dental hygiene is important. As the mouth is the gateway to the body, it is important to take good care of it. Teeth that ache, gums that bleed, and breath that smells bad are all indicators of poor oral health which could result in you getting sick. So, it is important to take good care of your teeth but we would like to do this as sustainable as possible.
Most toothbrushes nowadays are made entirely out of plastic. We live in a world with over 7 billion people who all brush their teeth about twice a day and use several toothbrushes on a yearly basis. This is a massive contribution to landfills and sometimes even oceans so it is time to make your daily oral hygiene more sustainable. The easiest first step to start is to switch to a bamboo toothbrush. You can use it the same way as its plastic counterpart. The only difference is the carbon footprint. The only thing you might want to consider is the bristles. Unfortuneately, the bristles are either made from plastic of made from pig hair. Eventhough the latter is compostable, it is not vegan. Whether or not you are comfortable with this is up to you. If you are not vegan, perhaps a toothbrush like this would be the right decision for you.
Several toothbrush manufacturers claim that their bristles are made from Nylon-4. This is a petroleum-based plastic that has been shown in lab studies to biodegrade in the environment under certain conditions. However, studies preformed in a lab and real life are not the same thing. None of these manufacturers have provided any third-party proof that their toothbrush bristles actually will biodegrade in soil. Let alone in the cold waters of the ocean. Furthermore, it is questionable whether all of them really contain Nylon-4 in the first place. Usually Nylon-6 is used which is non-biodegradable plastic.
Tooth tablets or tooth powder is a great sustainable alternative to plastic tooth paste tubes. There are several brands available and you could even make your own if your are into DIYing. I love to make my own and made my own using equal parts of xylitol (a natural sweetener that also prevents bacterial growth and neutralises ph), backing soda (a mild abrasive that removes plaque and neutralises ph) and bentonite clay (helps to remineralise teeth). However, as my teeth are not very strong this resulted in a root canal after a couple of months and my dentist strongly advised me to use a toothpaste with fluoride. So, now I use tooth tablets with fluoride. The above mentioned recipe might work for you but it wasn’t for me as my teeth are rather weak unfortunately.
Floss is often coated in plastic to make it glide better between your teeth. As I prefer to use something plastic free, these types of floss I would like to avoid. There are numerous brands of floss available that are made without plastic. Floss that is silk based is a great alternative to plastic but it is not great if you prefer to live vegan (silk is made by silkworms). Luckily, there are also alternative that are completely plant based. The string is made of plant based wax which means it is biodegradable and the metal container is infinitely reusable.
I hope these tips help you to make your dental routine as sustainable as possible.