Like with many things today, taking a step back from modern norms is how we can return to something greener and typically cheaper. Nowadays, we rely far too heavily on plastics, disposable products, and chemical solutions made by companies unconcerned with our bodies or the environment. It has compromised the planet, and it has compromised our health. Dental care is no different.
Toothbrushes have become bulky, overly-exaggerated designs that are supposed to be changed every three months. Toothpaste has questionable ingredients known to damage our brains and pollutes water sources, and it creates a lot of packaging. Mouthwash comes in plastic bottles and, some might say, is little more than a chemical concoction. Floss, which seems to be ubiquitously recommended, usually involves a treasure trove of plastics, from packaging to petroleum-based wax coating to the floss itself.
Is it not possible to keep our teeth clean in a responsible, healthy, green way? Of course, it is.
Finding a 100 percent ecologically-friendly toothbrush feels somewhat impossible, particularly if pig hair (as in not vegan) isn’t going to work for you. However, there are some less-than-perfect options out there that are certainly better than the over-packaged brushes with unnecessary bells, whistles, suspension systems, and other accessories.
In general, bamboo toothbrushes are the acceptable alternative. Though these typically have nylon bristles (or pig hair bristles), they are biodegradable and able to be composted. There are versions packaged in cardboard containers. They aren’t as colorful as the plastic versions, but they get the job done and decompose to boot.
The more extreme solution is to use certain sticks, like oak and neem. They can be chewed to create all-natural toothbrushes. This, admittedly, takes a different level of devotion.
Toothpaste is problematic both for its packaging and negative effects on our health. Some of the chemicals used in the bigger name-brand toothpastes are linked to different medical conditions, such as cancer. And, trading gingivitis for cancer hardly seems like a great bargain. Consequently, many natural toothpastes are on the market. Of course, these still create a packaging issue.
Making toothpaste at home is very easy, and the end product is super effective and from natural ingredients. There are many recipes, most of which involve some combination of baking soda, activated charcoal, coconut oil and/or essential oil of peppermint. Not only is this homemade toothpaste healthier, but it’s also much cheaper.
Mouthwash is one of those products that is dubiously necessary; however, it is commonly used and undoubtedly pleasant. In reality, mouthwashes have been around for thousands of years, even back to simply using saltwater for the treatment of gum disease. Unfortunately, there are some downsides to the newer, chemically-derived mouthwashes.
Homemade rinses, to help with fresh breath and gum therapy, are again very easy to make and much kinder to our mouths. A favorite is simply a few drops of clove oil and a couple dozen drops of mint oil in hot water. This steeps into something every bit as refreshing, and it also cuts down on packaging because it can be stored in a glass bottle that can be reused.
Otherwise, oil pulling and saltwater rinses are probably healthier alternatives, though they don’t provide the freshness.
Buying floss, from a green point of view, is one of the more difficult conundrums. Floss seems to be a consistent recommendation from dentists, so it’s worth considering. However, floss seems to be atrociously caught up in plastics. Though there are some commercial alternatives out there, none are flawless floss.
One possible option would be to use natural sewing thread, but it must be stated that this might be more expensive and not as strong. Again, oil pulling is another possibility for cleaning well in between your teeth, though it isn’t supposed to be used to replace flossing. Bryton picks are yet another alternative (a pricier one) that creates less troublesome trash.
The point is that dental care can be greener. It can happen without buying products from companies that test on animals or buying high-priced natural versions of those products. It can happen without chemicals. It can happen with a few ingredients for homemade solutions that are better for us and for our planet. Doesn’t that make much more sense?
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