With recent events, it’s not surprising that more Americans concern themselves with how to lighten their impact on the planet. A lot of those looking to make changes are considering using their vehicles less, recycling more, and using less packaging overall. One place that often gets overlooked in all this fervor is how much waste is produced by our dental hygiene practices. While these practices are effective and essential to maintaining good oral health, there are changes that can be made. Almost everything involved in our oral hygiene involves plastic to a disturbing degree. If you want to lighten your impact on the planet, this article will help you understand the changes that can be made to your oral hygiene.
Following An Environmentally Safe Oral Hygiene Routine
While reducing your environmental impact isn’t a complicated process when it comes to your oral hygiene, it does take some effort. The best way to start off is by identifying all of the plastic that can be found in your medicine cabinet. Your toothbrush, toothpaste tube, mouthwash bottle, and floss container are all composed of almost entirely plastic. When you consider the fact that your floss will take 80 years to decompose in a landfill, the problem becomes readily apparent. If that wasn’t bad enough, there are sufficient floss containers thrown away each year to fill a football stadium.
Mouthwash bottles are just as bad. The average family goes through 3-4 bottles of mouthwash each month. Each month those bottles tend to go straight into the garbage bin, or maybe the recycling bin. The same can be true of replacing your toothbrush each month and the toothpaste tube just about as often. The worst part of recycling is that there is abundant evidence that most of what gets taken to a recycling center does not, in fact, get recycled. So what’s a conscientious person who wants clean teeth to do?
You can replace your nylon floss with mulberry silk floss. Bamboo toothbrushes can replace plastic ones. Mouthwash tablets that come in recyclable metal containers are an option. You can even find a toothpaste that comes in tubes that are easily recyclable or opt for powdered toothpaste for the same reason.
The problems with our oral hygiene practices don’t stop with plastic. There are also water-related concerns to think about. About a billion gallons of freshwater is wasted every month simply by leaving the tap water running while brushing. Consider taking the following steps.
- Turn off the tap after filling a tumbler of water
- Use this water to wet your toothbrush prior to brushing
- Floss before rinsing the toothpaste out of your mouth
- Rinse your mouth with most of the water in the cup
- Use the remainder to rinse out your toothbrush
- Pour the remaining portion of it down the sink
These simple steps will eliminate a significant portion of the water waste you’d usually generate as part of your routine.
Together We Can Turn The Tide
With a combined effort, we can start to turn the tide against dental plastic waste. Speak to your dentist for more ideas about how to tackle this while maintaining a safe and effective dental hygiene routine.