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You can’t go anywhere nowadays without seeing or hearing something about how we need to work together to protect our environment. Even in our practice at Airway and Sleep Group, we try to do what we can. One way is by promoting and using biodegradable, sustainable products.
There are plenty of eco-friendly items available. Like bamboo toothbrushes. According to the website ibannboo.com, “A plastic bottle can take up to a thousand years to decompose. A biodegradable toothbrush helps reduce more than 4.9 billon plastic toothbrushes that are thrown away every year and end up in our oceans and landfills.” This site claims to sell more than 10 million bamboo toothbrushes throughout the world each year! It’s part of their mission to reduce plastic waste.
“Bamboo is completely biodegradable, making it a perfect alternative for daily-used plastic products,” it continues. The handle is composed of 100% sustainable bamboo and can be placed in a home compost or commercial composting bin, although the bristles, made from nylon and charcoal cannot, and must be removed. But they are the best option available to date. If the bristles were to be 100% biodegradable, they would need to be made from animal hair, which would not be suitable for cleaning teeth, and would potential harm animals.
Natural toothpaste is another way to support environmental concerns. Many natural toothpastes are chemical free–without glycerin, fluoride, alcohol and SLS (a surfactant known as sodium lauryl sulphate, the ingredient used as a foaming agent), and come in recyclable containers. Essential oils like peppermint, spearmint and orange give it an appealing flavor.
Instead of plastic floss containers, invest in a refillable metal one, and fill it with biodegradable dental floss. Other sustainable dental-related items can include tablet toothpaste, charcoal whitening, water flossers, and chemical-free mouthwashes.
Care for Biodegradable, Sustainable Products
You may have to take a little extra care of your biodegradable, sustainable products. Because they are made of natural materials, it is important to keep them dry and clean. Store your toothbrush upright in and open-air container, and store dry ingredients in a cool and humidity-free environment.
Chemicals to Avoid in Tooth Products
Read the labels on dental-related items you purchase and try to avoid these chemicals, if possible:
• SLS – can cause canker sores and irritation. Toxic to aquatic life when rinsed down the drain.
• Sodium Chlorite – can be toxic to kidneys. Used as a bleaching agent in paper manufacturing.
• Sodium Hydroxide – also known as caustic soda or lye. Can cause mouth and abdominal pain, diarrhea and vomiting.
• Trisodium Phosphate – a harsh cleaning solution. Can cause algae overgrowth in water systems.
• Titanium Dioxide – a chemical used to whiten paint, and used in some toothpastes. A potential carcinogen, especially if inhaled.
• Alcohol – Some mouthwashes contain up to 25% alcohol! Can be dangerous to children and can lead to dry mouth.
The Eco-Dentistry Association® provides education and standards for dentists who choose to be green dental practitioners. Its educational programs, research and member resources help dental professionals reduce the impact on our environment and offer alternatives to patients concerned with a wellness lifestyle.
Dr. Liliana Calkins is a specialist in Orthodontics & Craniofacial Orthopedics. To learn more about biodegradable, sustainable and chemical-free dental products, contact her at Sunrise Orthodontics or Airway and Sleep Group.