Plastic toothbrush, plastic toothpaste tube, disposable floss in a plastic case. Add running water and you may think that brushing your teeth is tough on the planet. But there are a few simple ways you can reduce your environmental impact. And improve your oral health at the same time.
You can make some easy changes to lower your impact on the planet. We asked Dr. Taha Chersa, an Edmonton dentist with a Bachelor of Science in Environmental Science, for tips. He shared a simple four-step solution for better brushing:
This method gives you more cleaning value for your toothpaste dollar – and uses less water.
“Many people keep the water running, but they still try to minimize water waste so they literally ‘race against the tap,’” Dr. Chersa says. “They rush to brush their teeth as fast as they can so they can turn off the water. It results in poorer brushing with greater water use. There’s definitely a better way.”
Dentists don’t recommend reusing floss because of bacterial contamination. But there are biodegradable flosses on the market that can reduce your eco-imprint.
Dr. Chersa also suggests buying a reusable floss handle. These let you take out a length of floss and then string it across two prongs. With this hand-held flossing tool, you’ll likely use less floss. And the holder makes it easier to reach the teeth at the back of your mouth.
Bamboo toothbrushes – with a compostable bamboo handle – are a popular choice.
“Moso bamboo is a great alternative to plastic. It grows very quickly (up to four feet per day) without using chemicals,” Vicky Jodry, Vice-president at Ola Bamboo, says. “It’s compostable whereas plastic pollutes for more than 500 years.”
Dr. Chersa points out that there are also low-charge electric toothbrushes that may reduce your impact. The handle is permanent and charging requirements are low. You will only be replacing the small brush head when you need a new brush.
Many dentists are adopting more eco-friendly practices. A study in the Journal of Contemporary Dental Practice says environmental approaches are transforming the field. The Canadian Dental Association shares tips for dentists to make their practices greener. This includes the use of dental supplies that have a lower environmental impact.