• Ashley, Start to Simplify

Your Guide To Eco-Friendly & Non-Toxic Oral Care

“Every toothbrush you’ve ever used still exists today.”

You may have heard that before, and it’s a true statement about your floss containers and toothpaste tubes as well. Fortunately, there are more sustainable options available that work just as well without adding to our landfill.

Compostable Manual Toothbrushes

Consider switching to a brush with a compostable handle like those made of bamboo. Bamboo toothbrushes come with normal nylon bristles you are familiar with, so the cleaning experience is the same (look for BPA free bristles).

My favorite brand of bamboo toothbrush is From Earth to Earth (F.E.T.E). This is one of the few sustainable products my husband has gone out of his way to tell me he wants me to buy again. They are widely available individually or in packs, here are a few links for the USA & Canada. Currently our toddler uses Brush with Bamboo. I have used this brand as well and think it works great. Available in the USA & Canada (check your local eco store too!).

There are many more bamboo toothbrush brands available that I would consider trying, including some available at your local pharmacy (I just saw Colgate and Burts Bees bamboo toothbrushes yesterday!). To compost your used toothbrush, simply use pliers to remove the nylon bristles and compost the handle. If you don’t have a compost service or personal or community compost bin, check your local farmers market for one, use Terracycle (see recycling section below), or reuse it for household cleaning or as plant labels in your garden.

Recyclable Manual Toothbrushes (for Canadians)

Bamboo not your thing? Plastic manual toothbrushes are available with replaceable heads (meaning less plastic wasted), but Grin Brush is the only brand I have heard of who will take your used brush heads back and pay to have them specially recycled. Their aluminum handle is also 100% recyclable. Find their affordable products (& free Canadian shipping, currently no shipping to the USA) here.

Oral Care Recycling (for Americans)

If you live in the USA, you can send in any brand of manual toothbrush, toothpaste tube or floss container for recycling at Terracycle (a very advanced recycling company) courtesy of Colgate (free). You simply collect your oral care products until you have a small to medium envelop filled, print a pre-paid shipping label, and drop it off at UPS. Currently there is a waitlist for the program, but don’t let that stop you from signing up- new spots open! While you are there, check out other recycling items they accept. Note: Terracycle exists in Canada too, just not this program unfortunately. More information & how to sign up here.

Electronic Toothbrushes Electronic toothbrushes are necessary in some situations, but, generally speaking, the plastic and batteries/electricity required aren’t eco-friendly. The best options are to:

1) Use your electronic toothbrush for as long as possible, avoiding unnecessary brand switches. 2) When you do need a new brush, dispose of your old one properly (see how here). 3) Pick a more sustainable option like Georganics. They have a Zero Waste program similar to Grin. If that isn’t available (its currently sold out, but available through UK retailers), consider finding one that is well reviewed for durability and comes with a solid warranty. Personally, I would avoid subscription based companies who mail you a new brush head every few months as this is an unnecessarily large carbon footprint for a toothbrush head.

Plastic Free Floss

Consider switching to a plastic free (compostable) floss. Why?

1) Plastic floss and floss packaging are not curbside recyclable; plastic floss is bound for the landfill or ocean where it will not readily biodegrade and could even harm wildlife.

2) Many brands of conventional floss are petroleum & nylon or polyester based and can be coated with toxic chemicals like polytetrafluoroethylene (Teflon) (sources here, here); while there is debate about whether or not the levels of Teflon in floss is actually harmful to the body, I believe it is completely unnecessary when safe floss alternatives are available and they come in recyclable or refillable packaging.

Common plastic free floss material options: silk , bamboo fiber , corn fiber and even algae!

Many options are available coated in peppermint & ginger essential oils, activated charcoal, and/or natural waxes to make them easier to glide.

Compostable floss picks or zero waste floss picks are also available.

Zero-Waste & Non-Toxic Tooth Paste

There are many zero-waste toothpastes available that are sold in tablet or powder (dip) forms and are housed in recyclable containers. I have personally never tried these because I have been unable to find an accessible brand containing a proven tooth remineralizer (like fluoride, or nHAP).

Fluoride is a heavily debated topic (one I won’t get into today), but personally I have seen statements from those who have developed severe cavities as a result of not using a toothpaste containing a remineralizer. In my opinion – this is not an area worth taking risks, but ultimately you should consult with your dentist.

Nano-hydroxyapatite (nHAP) is a non-toxic fluoride alternative that has been the “gold standard” in Japan for decades and has proven to be just as effective at the prevention and remineralization of dental caries (sources here and here).

Bite zero waste toothpaste brand advertises that their tablets contain nHAP, but they haven’t responded to my email asking about the nHAP concentration (according to Dr. Mark Burhenne from AsktheDentist, a minimum of 10% is necessary, read more here ). Dr. Burhenne states that the brands that use nHAP in sufficient levels are Boka (USA , Canada) and Risewell (USA). Note Risewell was also reviewed by Irina Webb from Ireadlabelsfoyou and confirmed to be non-toxic. I plan to try these soon and hope zero waste options become available!

I hope these tips help guide your efforts to live clean and save our planet. There many more eco-friendly and non-toxic oral care products out there (like tongue scrapers, tablet and non-alcoholic mouth washes, safer whitening strips etc.) that I hope to review in the future!

Have you tried any of these products? What was your experience?

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