This week’s Eco Chat is all about Eco Dental Care to tie in with the June focus. You can watch the full chat on the video below or see a rough transcript underneath. As always I would love your thoughts and questions so please pop them in the comments.
This week I’m going to talk a little bit about dental care and how it can be eco-friendly with just a few switches.
First though, here are some facts on dental products and our mouths:
- Did you know that roughly 3.5 BILLION toothbrushes are sold worldwide each year and that the average person uses 356 toothbrushes in their lifetime (from age 1-90, 4 a year).
- Leaking batteries entering landfills from disposable and battery-powered toothbrushes. These batteries leak materials such as mercury, lead, and cadmium into the environment causing soil contamination and water pollution.
- The first toothpaste tube was invented in 1856 – it will still exist today.
- You’ll spend over two months of your life brushing your teeth. If you brush for two minutes, twice a day, every day, for most of your life, you’ll be brushing for between 70 and 80 total days!
- Your smile is as unique as your fingerprint. There’s a reason that detectives use dental records to help identify bodies, and it’s because every person’s teeth rest in their mouths differently—even identical twins! Additionally, your tongue print is unique to you, too!
- Ingredients in toothpaste: Titanium dioxide whilst it is safe to use, it is also used for a range of industrial and consumer products, including paints, coatings, adhesives, paper, plastics and rubber, printing inks and roofing materials. Tetrasodium Pyrophosphate is an odourless, white powder or granular solid. As well as being used in toothpaste, it is also used in household and industrial cleaning compounds, as a water softener, a metal cleaner and for oil well drilling. Carrageenan is added to thicken toothpaste and although it is made from red seaweed it has been linked to gastrointestinal inflammation, ulcers and even colon cancer in laboratory animals.
One of the biggest debates in the eco dental world is that of fluoride vs non-fluoride. Some people are dead set against it, others see it as an essential and there are some who don’t really know much about it. Here is what I have learned:
- So firstly – What is fluoride? Fluoride is a naturally occurring mineral found in water in varying amounts, depending on where in the UK you live. It can help prevent tooth decay, which is why it’s added to many brands of toothpaste and, in some areas, to the water supply through a process called fluoridation.
- So if fluoride is naturally occurring in water (and even ADDED to our water here in the UK), why do we still need it in our toothpaste? Fluoride in toothpaste can help to strengthen enamel and prevent tooth decay when used correctly and as directed.
- Arguments against fluoride The biggest argument against fluoride is that it can have quite serious consequences if we have have an excess of it in our bodies. In young children Dental Fluorosis can occur if too much fluoride is used in the early years of life and can cause dark spots to form on teeth. In older adults, excessive fluoride can cause skeletal fluorosis but can also interfere with other tissues such as the brain and pineal gland. Because we cannot control how much fluoride we intake through food and water, it is a concern that the fluoride in toothpaste may lead to these excessive amounts which cause problems.
- Can we get our daily fluoride intake from somewhere other than toothpaste?YES! Here in the UK our water contains fluoride but also, lots of foods do. Things like tea, coffee, yoghurt, apple, avocado and carrots all contain fluoride.
- So do I have to have a toothpaste with fluoride in? The answer here is…it is up to you. If you have strong, healthy teeth, drink plenty of water and have a healthy and varied diet, then the chances are you do not need added fluoride in your toothpaste BUT you should always check with a qualified dentist first.
And now for some alternatives to the plastic products we are all accustomed to….
Our usual toothbrush, electric toothbrush heads, floss, interdental brushes, mouthwash bottles and toothpaste tubes are ALL made from plastic. If you use 3-4 of these products and need new every 3 months…that is a lot of plastic. If you’re unsure why not keep a small box and collect your families waste from Dental products over the next 6 months. I’m pretty sure you’d be shocked at the results!
You can now buy bamboo or sustainable wooden toothbrushes with nylon bristles that break down quickly. Vegan floss is available which is compostable and the packaging is plant based. Toothpaste is available in tablet form, in plastic free packaging, as a paste in a glass jar or in a new technology tube which has a lower carbon footprint and is more easily recyclable. Mouthwash is again available in tablet form and interdental brushes with bamboo handles.
There honestly isn’t any need to have so much plastic in our bathrooms. I’ve done a price comparison for these products and they are no more expensive that the non-eco alternatives!
Will you make a pledge to change one of your dental care products in the next 30 days?
You can shop the full range of dental products here.
Please do let me know if you have any questions! I have done a lot of research on this topic for the June focus so would love to help out more if I can.