Looking to brush up on sustainability while brushing your pearly whites? You’re in the right place for some tips and tricks on sustainable oral care! Dr. Ankush Khanna and the team at Fresh Orthodontics are all about incorporating eco-conscious choices into our Brooklyn, NY orthodontic practice and encouraging it for your oral health routine. After all, oral hygiene is something you do on the daily so there’s a great cumulative impact if you greenify.
Here, your Park Slope orthodontist offers six ways to practice sustainable oral care and make a difference!
1. Swap Out Plastic Toothbrushes for Eco-Friendly Alternatives
First things first, toothbrushes. According to National Geographic, one billion plastic toothbrushes are thrown away every year in the United States. That’s enough toothbrushes to stretch around the earth four times! And 50 million pounds of waste going into landfills.
Luckily, you can start zero-waste oral care by choosing an eco-friendly toothbrush. Our tip? Look for bamboo toothbrushes. This plastic-free alternative has a much smaller ecological footprint than traditional toothbrushes.
Bamboo is a quick-growing and quick-harvesting plant. Bamboo toothbrushes are biodegradable and compostable if you remove the nylon bristles (which are, unfortunately, not recyclable or biodegradable). Reuse your bamboo toothbrushes as garden plant markers or stakes for seedlings.
Not sure which bamboo toothbrushes will work effectively for you? Ask your Brooklyn orthodontist for our top picks that fulfill your dental health and work well for brushing with braces.
2. Recycle Your Toothpaste Tubes
It’s no secret: mainstream toothpaste tubes are not recyclable. And, honestly, it’s actually very hard to find fully plastic-free toothpaste with fluoride on the market. A solution? Go for toothpaste brands that feature recyclable or biodegradable packaging. But how can you tell which packaging fits the bill?
A few Colgate toothpastes and their Tom’s of Maine sub-brand indicate they’re made of HDPE 2 plastic which is technically recyclable. But not every community’s recycling program takes them. Check if your location does, and if so, great! But if not, an option is TerraCycle®. It’s a free, national recycling program that just takes a few extra steps to ensure your toothpaste tubes and caps get recycled for real.
With TerraCycle, simply collect your empties in a box and when full, print a prepaid return label, affix it to the box, and ship it via UPS to TerraCycle. You can also include toothbrushes, toothpaste cartons, toothbrush outer packaging, and floss containers in your shipment. The TerraCycle process includes sorting, cleaning, disassembling, and creating pellets or flakes to sell to companies so they can make new products.
Big on reusing? Give your finished toothpaste tubes new life at home as knife sleeves, pen and pencil holders or organizers. You can also try switching to a tooth powder that comes in a recyclable or reusable tub or jar. Just be sure your choice of plastic-free toothpaste or tooth powder has fluoride.
3. Find Mouthwash With More Friendly Packaging
Like toothpaste, most mainstream mouthwashes come in plastic bottles. The ones that come in clear PET plastic bottles can be recycled but if you want to steer clear of plastic altogether, you’ve got options!
You can buy mouthwash in glass bottles or opt for mouthwash tablets that dissolve in water or you just chew! Mouthwash tablets are an easy way to include sustainable oral care products into your oral hygiene routine. They often come in much smaller packaging that’s also reusable, recyclable, or both. Just be sure to find mouthwash tablets that contain fluoride like these Eco Living ones to strengthen teeth, or at least fight oral bacteria with pH balancing ingredients.
4. Invest in A Water Flossers Over Traditional Floss
Plastic-free floss isn’t the easiest to come by — most dental floss comes in plastic containers and the floss itself can be harmful to marine life. Enter: water flossers for zero-waste oral care. Water flossers gently but effectively get rid of plaque and food debris between and on teeth. Plus, it’s great for braces-wearers — you don’t have to navigate tricky flossing around brackets and wires. You just spray a jet of water and clean away!
Or take a look at reusable floss picks or plastic-free floss. Reusable floss picks have a long-lasting handle you reload with floss for every use. Some do come in plastic but if you want to go for a completely plastic-free floss pick, Friendly Floss floss handle is made of food-grade stainless steel you can clean in the dishwasher. Use it with any floss, including biodegradable, plastic-free floss made of bamboo, silk, or, PLA — a corn-based “plastic”.
5. Try A Reusable Tongue Cleaner
Take your eco-friendly oral care a step further with a tongue scraper. Some studies have shown that tongue scrapers are helpful in the short term for reducing oral bacteria and sulfur that contributes to bad breath. It’s easy to reach for a plastic tongue scraper at your local drugstore, but go for zero waste oral care here with a copper or stainless steel one. These last last longer, hold less bacteria than plastic, and can be easily cleaned.
Dr. Khanna suggests practicing gentle tongue scraping and only scrape once or twice per session. Be sure to rinse between passes and deep clean your tongue scraper regularly according to the material it’s made of.
6. Choose Sustainable Dentists and Orthodontists
Ask your dental specialists what they’re doing to minimize their environmental impact. Do they:
- Use biodegradable gloves or cups
- Have water-saving technology
- Recycle packaging or minimizes paper usage
- Use less harmful chemicals in treatments
- Employ energy-saving practices
At Fresh Orthodontics, environmental sustainability is one of our values. As a Park Slope, Brooklyn, NY orthodontist, we practice eco-sensitivity wherever we can, right alongside our high tech, personalized braces, Invisalign®, and Spark Clear Aligners services. Our eco practices include minimizing our plastic and paper use, using a dry vacuum system instead of wet which saves up to 360 gallons of water a day, and steam sterilization instead of toxic chemicals. Learn more about our planet-friendly practices here.
Your Brooklyn Orthodontist Modeling Eco-Friendly Oral Health Practices
So there you have it! Six ways to practice more sustainable oral care. Need more tips or guidance for eco-friendly oral care? We’re here for you. If you’re looking for high tech orthodontic treatment with modern braces or clear aligners like Spark™ Clear Aligners or Invisalign®, give your Park Slope sustainable orthodontist a shout!