As a dentist, I am frequently reminding my patients to brush and floss their teeth. But have you ever thought about how much waste is actually generated when you brush your teeth, not only in terms of wasted water but actual landfill waste generated by toothbrushes, floss sticks, disposable cups, etc.?
Thinking about these things has led me to encourage my patients to take small but meaningful action to lessen their impact on the environment when caring for their teeth. Here are some ideas that are both healthy and green – even kids can do them (and they should!):
- Pick a toothbrush – there are lots of options when it comes to green toothbrush options. Choose a toothbrush that is BPA and phthalate-free as a healthier option for your children and look for toothbrushes that are not only made from recycled materials but are themselves recycled into useful products when you are done with them. Also pay attention to the packaging. Companies that really care about the environment will sell their products in recyclable and biodegradable packaging. Alternatively, if you like to use an electric toothbrush, choose a product that has replaceable heads so that you don’t have to throw away the motor and battery just because the bristles are getting worn.
- Select your floss – when looking for floss and floss sticks (plastic sticks which hold little pieces of floss and are great for introducing kids to flossing) look for products which are biodegradable. Some products are made from bioplastics (using crops such as corn, wheat, tapioca and potato) rather than petroleum, making them compostable.
- Skip the rinse and spit –When you have finished brushing, spit out the toothpaste, but skip the rinse. Not only does it make the toothpaste less effective to rinse and spit it out, but it wastes clean, fresh water by pouring it down the drain unnecessarily while you brush. If you must rinse after brushing, avoid using disposal cups.
As you can see, even small changes in your routine can have a positive impact on the environment. You may also be surprised to know that some of these products are carried by major drug stores as well as specialty health stores so look at little closer at your options the next time you need a new toothbrush – the healthier, greener option may be right in front of you!