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How To Be an Eco-Hero While Brushing Your Teeth Everyday

A selection of toothbrushes

If you’re like most smile-conscious Americans, you make sure to brush your teeth twice a day, floss, and give a swish with mouthwash to keep your pearly whites sparkling. If you’re also one of the growing numbers of people who want to make sure they leave a better planet for coming generations, then finding a way to do, so that doesn’t harm the environment should be high on your list. Dental hygiene is great, but it often involves an immense amount of plastic products that will be polluting our landfills and oceans for generations to come. Thankfully there are ways to reduce the impact our beautiful smile has on the world.

Nearly 50 million tons of toothbrush related plastic ends up in landfills each year

It Starts With Replacing Your Plastic Toothbrush

Each year there are billions of toothbrushes sold all around the world, and the vast majority of these are made from plastic that ultimately finds its way into the environment. In fact, nearly 50 million tons of plastic waste is generated each year from toothbrush disposal alone! The majority of these toothbrushes never find their way to the recycling bin, and those that don’t actually get recycled. While there are steps being taken to help ensure that plastic sent to be recycled actually gets recycled, it’s still not going to be enough to keep it all from entering the environment. Even worse, many toothbrushes have handles that aren’t made from recyclable plastic, which by and large means that none of it is recyclable. Even when tossed in the recycling bin, these products just get fished out and tossed.

It’s not just the toothbrush that’s the problem either; the packaging it comes in represents another huge source of plastic waste entering the environment. If the rates of plastic toothbrushes with recyclable handles are low, the packaging fails the test even harder. This is particularly egregious given that the packaging only gets used long enough to get the toothbrush into your house! After that, it’s straight into the garbage bin.

Over 80 years later, nylon dental floss will remain undecayed in landfills

So Where Do We Start Finding Solutions?

Thankfully there’s a developing number of sources for non-plastic toothbrushes out there. New materials are being used that ensure that the toothbrush is biodegradable, including bamboo handles, cardboard packaging, etc. But it doesn’t stop there! There are also an increasing amount of options out there for floss and mouthwash that are delivered in ways that have less impact on the environment. Mouthwash tablets that come in recyclable metal tins and floss that’s made from mulberry silk, not nylon. Every year we see an increasing availability of products entering the marketplace that provide choices for the environmentally conscious dental patient. Want to go the extra mile? Contact your dental provider and discuss the materials they use in the office. Many dentists can be persuaded to use environmentally safer alternatives, and you may be surprised to learn that they already are!

Dr. Karmen Massih Inspired by orthodontics at the age of 10, Dr. Karmen Massih earned her Doctor of Dental Medicine at UCLA's School of Dentistry. After earning her certificates in orthodontics at the University of Pittsburgh, she returned to her hometown of Glendale, CA, to begin Massih Orthodontics, a practice dedicated to transforming smiles for people of all ages.
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