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The High Cost of Dental Hygiene Generated Plastic Waste

Maintaining our teeth with oral hygiene is an important part of maintaining a lasting smile. We all want to be able to flash our pearly whites with pride. How often do you take steps to reduce the environmental impact of keeping them looking great? You’ll have a hard time finding an individual, let alone a family, who doesn’t live a life that thrives on the convenience of plastic. Unfortunately, convenience comes with a cost down the road.  

The High Cost of Dental Hygiene Generated Plastic Waste

Every tube of toothpaste, skein of floss, and bottle of mouthwash must eventually reach the end of its usefulness. When they do, they often find their way into the garbage bin and, ultimately, into a landfill. Toothbrushes alone account for well over 50 million pounds of plastic waste alone each year. This is all the result of a set of guidelines for caring for our teeth written by the American Dental Association decades ago. Every piece of advice offered in those guidelines is excellent for caring for your teeth. Unfortunately, they don’t address the environmental impact of doing so. Consider the following:

  • Toothbrushes – Each toothbrush is responsible for about 4-6 ounces of plastic waste from packaging to disposal. The ADA says to dispose of your toothbrush every six months, causing up to 12 ounces of waste by doing so. Across billions of people, this adds up fast.
  • Mouthwash – One person using an average-sized bottle of mouthwash twice a day will go through two bottles a month.
  • Floss – The floss itself is made from Nylon, a plastic fabric. The container is made from plastic as well. A family of three will go through a little over a pack of floss a month with regular use.

While there’s little doubt our daily oral hygiene practice produces a significant amount of waste, it’s also effective at protecting our teeth. Thankfully, there are numerous choices available to keep our teeth healthy while also taking steps to keep our planet healthy as well. Recycling your dental products is a great first step. Recycling your plastic toothbrush may be better for the environment than switching to one made of natural products like bamboo.

Mouthwash is available in pill form and comes in a small metal plastic container you can refill. This saves water and plastic alike. A similar option exists for floss. There are brands of floss made from mulberry silk that will decompose naturally once it enters a landfill. Even the container it is stored in is biodegradable.

Speak To Your Dentist For Further Advice

Are you dedicated to a low-impact oral hygiene routine that still keeps your teeth looking great? Get your dentist involved. They’ll often have good advice about products that are safe, effective, and have a lower impact on the environment. They can also serve as an effective source of alternative methods of caring for your teeth that are just as effective. Consider the use of charcoal toothpaste for whitening, for instance. You can also ask your dentist about the steps they take to protect the environment as part of their practice. Call for your appointment today!

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  • oral
  • adc
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