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How Your Oral Hygiene Routine May Be Hurting The Environment

Environmental awareness has been an increasing trend over the past few decades, with more and more people becoming aware of just how serious our impact on the planet can be. From oil spills to mountains of plastic waste ending up in rivers, landfills, and the ocean, humans have a dramatic impact. While many of us are taking strides by making use of the recycling containers available from most solid waste management companies and are trying to reduce waste, there’s more we can do. Oral hygiene practices result in millions of pounds of plastic waste each year, but there are things we can do to reduce our impact.

3 Pounds Of Plastic Waste Is Generated With Every Toothbrush from Manufacturing to Disposal

The Looming Problem of Plastics In Oral Hygiene

The ADA provides a well-researched and effective routine for oral health care practices that are followed by people all over the country. While it provides a great way to ensure you don’t suffer from decay or other oral health problems, it doesn’t provide much in the way of commentary regarding the disposal of dental hygiene products. This results in millions of mouthwash bottles, toothpaste tubes, floss containers, and toothbrushes being thrown away every year, with the following results:

  • 50 millions pounds of plastic waste in the form of over a billion toothbrushes

  • A football stadiums worth of empty floss containers entering landfills

  • Countless mouthwash bottles that won’t decay for decades or longer

  • Over four gallons of water waste per person leaving the faucet running while they brush

  • Leaking batteries entering landfills from disposable and battery-powered toothbrushes

All of this plastic entering the environment will leave its mark for decades as it slowly breaks down into microscopic pieces. These bits of plastic will ultimately find their way into the ocean, ending up on beaches, in fish, and floating in giant plastic islands in the middle of the ocean. Without taking action against plastic waste, this problem is only going to continue to grow.

Nylon Dental Floss Sometimes Takes As Much As 80 Years to Decay

Reducing Your Environmental Impact

Research into techniques for brushing and oral health care has shown that “brushing” your teeth after every meal using your finger, tongue, and a bit of water to rinse may yield better results than a toothbrush. Dentists tend to suggest that we stick with more modern methods of dental care so we can benefit from the fluoride in our toothpaste and floss to remove bits from between our teeth. Those looking for more sustainable ways of doing so may want to check into mulberry silk floss, a natural floss that comes in a disposable container. Mouthwash is available in tablet form, and bamboo brushes break down naturally in the environment. Even when using alternative and more dental care products, be sure to check for the ADA seal.

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.