Plastics have brought a lot of good to our world, providing inexpensive options for durable and effective tools for all sorts of jobs. From helping to keep medical tools sterile before an operation to being used to make toothbrushes, floss, and other hygiene tools, we use plastic constantly. Unfortunately, its durability comes with an undesirable consequence; it takes forever for it to break down in the environment and never really goes away completely. This means that all of our dental care products tend to wind up in rivers and on beaches or rotting in landfills for decades, potentially centuries. There are choices we can make to lessen our impact.
Each Plastic Toothbrush Is Responsible For 3 Pounds of Packaging And Disposal Waste
The Looming Problem of Plastics In Oral Hygiene
All of the steps the ADA provides for taking care of our oral hygiene are important and should definitely be followed thoroughly. While doing so, however, we can keep a thought for our environment in mind. Below we’ll list a number of ways you can reduce your impact on the environment while still keeping up with the oral hygiene practices suggested by the ADA.
- Look for alternatives to plastic toothbrushes; bamboo ones are a great choice
- Natural silk floss is a sustainable alternative to the nylon floss found in pharmacies
- Mouthwash comes in a tablet form that is just as effective at battling bacteria
- Turn off the water while you brush; over four gallons per person is wasted otherwise
- Don’t invest in electric toothbrushes if you can help it; the batteries go straight to the landfill
These five steps can make a huge impact on how much waste we produce while caring for our teeth, but it’s really just the beginning. Even better than using bamboo toothbrushes is just being certain to recycle the plastic ones that we throw away twice a year. Recycling uses less water than growing the bamboo used in the other toothbrushes, resulting in a lower environmental impact overall. It also keeps the plastic out of the landfills and oceans, which is good for everyone. You can go even further and follow the results of research that suggests brushing your teeth with your finger, tongue, floss, and a little water may be better than actual brushing for your teeth.
Once Entering The Landfill Nylon Floss Slowly Decays Over Nearly A Century
The Hard Facts Of Plastic Waste From Brushing
Without following the above practices, landfills continue to see a massive influx of plastic waste from oral hygiene care. Nearly 50 million tons of plastic enter the environment every year from the disposal of plastic toothbrushes alone. Add to this the literal football stadium worth of plastic floss containers and countless mouthwash bottles that enter the environment, and it becomes clear that something has to change before it’s too late. Now get out there and brush sustainably.