As the years pass, it becomes increasingly apparent that the human impact on Earth is far-reaching and potentially devastating to our culture and potentially our species. As a result, more and more people from every walk of life have been looking for ways to minimize their footprint on the environment in every area of their life. Dental care is not an exception to this, as evidenced by a growing body of patients who are requesting information about environmentally friendly oral health options. This includes options for their treatments in the office as well as better choices they can make for the environment in the selecting of their dental hygiene products.
How Much Impact Do Dental Care Products Have On The Environment?
Years ago, the founder of Sustainable Coastlines Hawaii, Kahi Pacarro, noticed a disturbing trend starting in their beach cleanup process. Takeout containers and straws had been a constant problem on the beaches and were the bulk of the items they’d pick up. This remained true until, one day, a plastic toothbrush was noticed on the beach. What was previously a rare occurrence has now become a constant presence on the beaches of Hawaii, with up to 100 toothbrushes being found along the beach during any given cleanup. Given the growing presence of plastic toothbrushes in the market since their introduction in the 1930s, this is pretty much to be expected.
Prior to their introduction, however, the appearance of a toothbrush on the beach was unheard of. Up until this point, all the toothbrushes on the market had been made of sustainable materials that were biodegradable. Even the bristles on the toothbrush were usually of some form of animal hair, so it all returned to the Earth when it was discarded. Plastic toothbrushes have become a serious bane in landfills, on beaches, and other waterways. The rising wave of environmentally conscious patients has led to the development of options being available that are healthier for the environment.
Is My Toothbrush Sustainable?
With the exception of electric toothbrushes, the answer to this question is an absolute no if your toothbrush contains plastic. Plastic doesn’t degrade in the environment for hundreds of years, so your toothbrush is going to outlast you, let alone your teeth. Thankfully, environmentally sound options exist:
• Bamboo Handles – One of the best options for the environmentally conscious dental patient are bamboo handled toothbrushes. These toothbrushes often combine biodegradable bamboo handles with natural bristles that ensure they’ll break down over time.
• Electric Toothbrushes – Electric toothbrushes that come with a disposable head are the next best choice. They provide an incredible cleaning experience, and you throw away far less of the item over time since you’re only replacing the head.
According to research by Trinity College in Dublin, the single most environmentally safe toothbrush is the standard plastic one. This may sound shocking, but it’s only true if you conscientiously recycle the toothbrush. Bamboo handles take a lot of water to produce, and electric toothbrush heads generally aren’t recyclable, and they contain batteries with toxic chemicals.
Want to know more about how you can make environmentally smart choices with your dental care products? Drs. Eduardo Solorzano and Dr. Randy Furshman are available to welcome you to Dentistry of Miami in Miami, FL. We proudly service our local community and are dedicated to keeping our beaches beautiful, clean, and free of plastic debris.