The American Dental Association is the primary source of good oral health practices, and their advice has proven immensely successful in protecting oral health. Unfortunately, without some consideration, these same practices can be doing lasting damage to the environment. Brushing, flossing, and using mouthwash can all generate an immense amount of waste and use substantial amounts of water. Thankfully there are answers for those looking to bring their oral hygiene practices into line with environmentally-friendly goals.
Nearly 3 Pounds of Hidden Waste Is Produced Per Toothbrush From Purchase To Disposal
How Your Twice A Day Brushing Can Be Hurting The Earth
We want to emphasize immediately that brushing your teeth twice a day is essential to maintaining dental health, but there are ways to do it sustainably. These steps start with considering the type of toothbrush you use and how you dispose of it and turning off the water while you brush. You’ll also want to take a look at your dental floss and its packaging, as well as the mouthwash you use. Without taking steps to change the impact we make on the environment through oral hygiene, the following occurs:
- Over 50 million pounds of waste are generated by more than one billion toothbrushes being thrown away
- A football stadium would be filled to the surface by the floss containers thrown away each year
- More than four gallons of water is wasted each day, per person, by leaving the water running while brushing
- Mouthwash bottles are generally made from plastic and add to the waste produced
Plastic is very durable and versatile, with the drawback being that it can take decades or even centuries to decay in the landfill. When it does decay, it doesn’t break down completely. Instead, the tiny particles end up floating in the ocean. Billions of pounds of waste from plastic products make this a serious problem for our oceans and the Earth.
Nylon Can Pose A Risk To Wildlife And Takes Up To 8 Decades To Decay In A Landfill
Reducing The Impact Your Oral Health Practices Have On The Environment
As you can tell, the problems associated with maintaining healthy dental habits while taking care of our planet are significant. We’ve assembled a collection of steps you can take to help reduce your impact while still getting the best results out of your oral health routine. These include:
- Turn off the water when you’re brushing, using it only to wet and rinse your brush
- Some studies say brushing your teeth with your tongue and finger after every meal can actually be more effective than regular brushing.
- Environmentally safe mouthwash is available in tablet form with recyclable containers.
- Rather than using nylon floss, try natural silk floss that breaks down in nature and comes in a refillable container.
- Toothbrushes made of natural materials are available, but recycling your plastic toothbrush does the most good.