Maintaining A Beautiful Smile, Responsibly

Natural Toothpaste

Of all the things you’ll find in your medical cabinet, plastic is probably the most prevalent. Almost everything in there is made from this material. Medicine bottles, toothbrushes, mouthwash bottles, and toothpaste tubes all have it in it. Once everything is used up and tossed in the waste bin, it amounts to an immense amount of waste. Consider how many individual containers you and your family go through each year. Plastic that winds its way into the environment ends up sitting in landfills for centuries, or disintegrates and finds its way into the ocean. With a little effort on our part and some changes in our hygiene practices, we can reduce the overall impact of caring for our teeth.


Maintaining A Beautiful Smile, Responsibly

The ADA guidelines that were created decades ago are perfectly suited to protecting our teeth. Under these guidelines we floss regularly, brush twice a day, and replace our toothbrushes every six months. While this is a great way to ensure lasting oral health, the guidelines never took environmental factors into consideration. Thankfully, the power to change what we use while sticking to these guidelines is in our hands. Before we talk about product replacement, let’s talk about alternative habits:


  • Shut off the tap water while you brush
  • Wait until after you floss to rinse your mouth out
  • Use remaining toothpaste foam to remove food debris
  • Rinse your mouth out without leaving the tap on


You probably noticed that each of these steps focuses on limiting the amount of water we use. If every American made a point of following these guidelines, millions of fresh water gallons would be preserved each day. Paying for city water adds an additional benefit, you’ll be lowering your water bill by 120-320 gallons per person, each month. We don’t have to tell you that adds up in a family of 3 or more.


Now, about the plastic. Every product you use generally contains or is made from some amount of plastic. Floss itself is made from nylon and housed in a plastic container, all of which get disposed of. Toothbrushes themselves account for nearly 50 million tons of plastic waste each year, and that doesn’t include mouthwash or other dental care products. Thankfully, there are choices available to help reduce plastic waste:


  • Mulberry Silk Floss – This kind of floss comes from silkworms, and comes in a reusable metal container. This is more effective, and safer than reusing floss. Floss can carry bacteria from use to use, so it’s best to dispose of it.
  • Bamboo Toothbrush – Toothbrushes come in a variety of different materials. Among these materials is bamboo, which is very renewable and long-lasting. The bristles on these brushes are also made from renewable sources, rather than plastic.
  • Mouthwash Tablets – This is a great way to reduce waste from mouthwash. The tablets come in a small recyclable tube and can be used with limited water. A great way to maintain fresh breath without increasing plastic waste.

While electric toothbrushes arguably produce less waste than traditional ones, their parts are still made of plastic. Even worse, the batteries must be disposed of eventually. When this happens they can leak caustic chemicals into landfills and water supplies.

Reach Out To Your Dentist For Other Ideas

Speaking to your dentist will add new ideas to ways you can help protect the environment. Not only can they give you good guidance, but they can also ensure your choices protect your teeth as well. Be sure to schedule your next bi-annual appointment so you can ask all your questions!


Alireza Movassaghi, D.D.S and Other Dentist Dr. Alireza Movassaghi brings 30 years of experience to the practice at Alvarado Family Dental Center. As a graduate of the USC School of Dentistry, he works tirelessly to expand access to dental care throughout the Los Angeles area. Along with his passion for expert dental care, he exhibits a love of soccer and beautiful cars.
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