One of the first blogs I wrote for Easier Than You Think was about how to have a greener shower. Ever since then, I’ve been trying to come up with ways to make the rest of my bathroom more sustainable. However, I’ve found that having greener teeth is pretty challenging - there are some fairly duff products out there. Of course, one option for going green in the gums is to stop brushing and flossing, but I don't think that's the kind of green anyone really wants!
Given that August is self-care month at WBCA, I thought I’d share some of the options I’ve learnt about for more sustainable smiles.
Photo by Gabriel Silvério on Unsplash
You’d probably have to have been living under an unsustainable rock not to have heard of bamboo toothbrushes by now, as these little buggers have been around for quite a while. There are various brands on offer these days.
Why are bamboo brushes better for the planet? Well, the plastic ones don’t biodegrade, so will sit in landfill until the end of time. In contrast, while the bristles on these bamboo babies are still plastic, the handles themselves are made from sustainable bamboo (hence the name) and so will biodegrade when you’re done with them. This article from the Independent lists what they say are the six best bamboo brushes on the market.
I used these brushes for a while but found that they didn’t leave my teeth feeling very clean. Plus when I lived in a house with a slightly damp bathroom, the wooden handles started to rot, which wasn’t great. Additionally, when I hit 40 and had to have about six of my teeth filled in several sittings (what a fun month that wasn’t!), my dentist recommended that I switch to an electric toothbrush. Despite my environmental misgivings, I did as instructed, since paying for rotten teeth is no fun at all, either financially or in terms of pain.
Photo by zoo_monkey on Unsplash
Initially, I was just buying and throwing away the toothbrush heads, consoling myself with the thought that at least they were a bit smaller than regular brushes. However, I then heard about Live Coco, who sell electric toothbrush heads which can be used and sent back for recycling. I’ve been using their heads for a few months now and have found this to be the best solution for green yet healthy teeth.
Perhaps even better, a friend of mine sent me a link to these little beauties - bamboo electronic toothbrushes. I’ve not tried them, but they look worth checking out as they boast month-long charging and come in entirely recycable packaging. If any blog readers have tried these, please let us know what they're like below.
Additionally, these toothbrushes from Yaweco - which have replaceable heads - have the thumbs up from Pippa, one of our WBCA committee members. She says:
I’ve found Yaweco toothbrushes comfortable to use with no hard edges. Changing replacement heads is easy, and great for both reducing plastic consumption and maintaining a brush in good condition. Most importantly, the relatively small heads have a soft bristle option, both of which my dental-surgeon father always stressed as vital for effective cleaning and care of both teeth and gums.
Photo by Kim Carpenter on Unsplash
Standard toothpaste comes in plastic squeezy tubes which also can’t be recycled and will just sit in landfill at the end of their lives, or end up in the ocean. However, there are alternative options out there.
You might want to try this 'Happier' toothpaste, which comes in an aluminium tube and so is easy to recycle. Additionally, their recipe is vegan and designed for sensitive teeth. I'm definitely tempted by this one.
Toothpaste tablets are available from various outlets and are beneficial as they are zero waste products. You chew them up, get brushing and off you go. However, several people I know have tried these and said that they aren’t that satisfying to use as they don't froth up. Other friends have said they can taste pretty bad.
If you’ve tried some toothpaste tablets which you get on well with, please post below with your recommendations.
Some people make their own toothpaste using coconut oil and bicarbonate of soda - but I’d be reluctant to recommend this approach as it means you’re not using fluoride and so your teeth might be at risk.
Cleaning in between your teeth is just as important as cleaning the teeth themselves. But unfortunately, traditional floss and interdental brushes create lots of landfill, and tend to be both made of and wrapped in plastic.
I tried bamboo interdental brushes like these and found them pretty useless. The wire inside the bristle bent so easily that they wouldn’t go between my teeth at all. If you’ve had more success with another brand, let us know below.
Photo by Warren Wong on Unsplash
There are various plastic-free brands of floss on the market. I’ve bought some from Live Coco which I found quite hard to use initially - I'd previously been using a silk coated floss which slid between my teeth like a dream - but I’ve got used to them now. One thing I will say is to take care to try to floss at the right angle as this floss breaks more easily than traditional stuff, so can get lodged between your teeth.
One product which does seem to be the solution to both of these issues is a water flosser. These gizmos aren’t cheap, but are apparently very good for your teeth. My friend Jezaya, who runs Sew Much More (a Bristol-based sewing company) uses a water flosser and says:
My gum health is at a lifetime high thanks to the water flosser. Both my dentist and hygienist have said my gum health has improved since I started using it. I always struggled with tape floss getting stuck between my teeth too - so much easier and waaay better.
Do you have any top tips for greener teeth? If so, please share them below!
Did you know… Plastic toothbrushes take 400-500 years to biodegrade?