Toothbrush on Beach

Exploring The Environmental Impact Of Brushing Your Teeth

Every day we have opportunities to reduce our impact on the environment. From prominent blue recycling bins to products with reduced packaging that’s biodegradable, we’re all trying to make good choices. When it comes to our dental care routine, we often encounter a problem keeping things sustainable. Floss and toothbrushes alike are packaged in plastic, and it’s difficult to find a brand of mouthwash that doesn’t come in a big plastic bottle. With all these non-biodegradable options in front of us, how can we make responsible choices?

3 pounds of hidden waste are created in the production and elimination of each plastic toothbrush

The Impact Of Dental Hygiene On The Environment

The amount of waste produced just following the recommended ADA (American Dental Association) guidelines for caring for our teeth is simply staggering. While essential to ensuring we have healthy teeth and avoid gum disease, every step just seems to add to the negative impact our oral hygiene will have on the environment. The plastic toothbrush, toothpaste container, floss container, the floss itself, and the bottle our mouthwash comes in all add to the waste. This is without considering the amount of water we use while brushing! Consider the following impacts made on the environment by using traditional products and practices:

  • 50 million pounds of plastic from over one billion toothbrushes enter landfills each year
  • A football stadium could be filled to overflowing with plastic floss containers
  • Unrecycled mouthwash bottles add to the problem with tons of waste each year
  • Leaving the water running consumed four gallons of fresh water, each brushing

Along with the gallons of water wasted, traditional dental hygiene products result in mountains of waste plastic that will take decades, or even centuries, to decay. Clearly, dental care waste is a serious problem.

It takes 80 years for Nylon Floss To Decay Outside Of A Landfill

Reduce Your Impact With A Few Simple Changes

Research indicates that it might be possible to get better results by brushing your teeth using your finger, tongue, and a little bit of water to clean your teeth and brush after every meal. For those seeking more traditional approaches, environmentally friendly options are available for traditional dental products. Bamboo brushes are a great option that degrades quickly, and floss that’s made from mulberry floss is available in refillable containers. You can reduce your waste further by turning off the water while you brush and using mouthwash in tablet form to care for your teeth.

Biodegradable products don’t have to be less effective, and there are options that have been authorized by the ADA. Look for their seal and speak with your practitioner about your choices for environmentally friendly dental care options so you can be certain that they’re safe and effective.

Maureen Karl, DDS, FAGD
As a graduate of the University of Buffalo School of Dental Medicine in 2004, Dr. Maureen Karl continues to hone her craft through continuing education. Dental patients throughout the Granbury, TX area know they can rely on our practice for skilled dental care using the latest practices.