Plastic Free July is a worldwide initiative to remind us of all the harmful effects plastic has on our planet and challenge us to choose more sustainable products. Many oral care brands have taken a stand to implement environmentally friendly products into their selection to help reduce waste. You can help join them by considering implementing these five easy tips into your oral care routine:
Look for an eco-friendly toothbrush
According to National Geographic, a billion toothbrushes will be tossed this year, most being made of plastic materials. Plastics are incredibly long-lived products, but your toothbrush should not be. Do not be confused here. A toothbrush, or toothbrush head, should be replaced at least every three months for optimal gum and tooth health. This recommendation makes it even more critical to replace your toothbrush with one that does not harm the planet. Look for biodegradable toothbrushes, which can be composted or even made of bamboo over plastic. Remember, the toothbrush head should be made of soft or extra soft bristles to reduce gum injury.
You may consider switching over to an electric toothbrush. Electric toothbrushes are friendly to the environment because only the head is replaced every three months instead of the entire toothbrush.
Choose an eco-friendly floss option
Plastic dental floss picks are common. Instead, look for biodegradable floss picks or reusable floss handles that require you to only replace the string between uses. There are also string floss options that are promoted to be zero waste or compostable.
Be thoughtful about packaging
Be sure not to overlook how dental products are packaged when making the change to a more sustainable oral care routine. Some examples include over-the-counter toothbrushes, floss, toothpaste, and mouthwashes. Companies that promote eco-friendly products will also promote eco-friendly packaging.
Hydrate using a reusable water bottle
Consider eliminating plastic water bottles and opt-in for a reusable one instead. You will also be more likely to drink more this way, especially if you choose a bottle that is larger than the typical 16 ounces. If you prefer to drink from a straw, look for a bottle that has an eco-friendly straw attached. Choosing water over other sugary beverages will also help reduce the risk of developing cavities. A win for you and a win for the environment!
- Support your local dental provider in ways to reduce office waste
There are many disposables in the dental clinic outside of gloves and masks. Dental offices may elect to replace some of those disposables with autoclavable, reusable items. Next time you are in for your bi-annual check-up, talk with your provider about how they are selecting eco-friendly products to use in the office. A simple conversation can be enough to promote a change!
I would like to highlight Grin Natural as one of the fantastic companies that has purposefully worked hard to create eco-friendly oral care products for its consumers. They offer bamboo, and biodegradable toothbrushes and dental floss picks (made of corn starch) that can be composted after their lifespan to help give back to our beautiful environment. Remember, this July, the actions you take to switch to a more sustainable oral care routine can make a difference and impact the planet positively!
Written by: Kristen Cockrell, RDH, MSDH
Kristen is a Pediatric Registered Dental Hygienist with a passion for preventive dentistry and oral health education. In addition to working full-time as a hygienist and mother to two young boys, Kristen is an oral health expert with Grin Natural.
Photo credits to our beautiful Grinners: @sustainable_valerie and @urbanoreganics