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My Zero Waste Oral Care Routine

Although I operate as a blogger by night, my day job is firmly rooted in healthcare. I am a cardiovascular nurse, so educating patients about their disease processes & medications is something that I do on a regular basis that I really enjoy. It’s super empowering to be able to give someone the tools to take charge of their own healthcare.

One of the things that I stress during patient education is good oral care. Many of these patients are puzzled & unsure of how their heart relates to their teeth, but trust me they do! If you don’t protect your teeth & perform proper oral hygiene it could lead to cavities & bacteria growth which can potentially enter your bloodstream & travel through your heart’s arteries causing them to harden. Gum infections are also quite common if you don’t have proper oral hygiene practices. Although it’s fairly rare, the bacteria from these infections can travel through your bloodstream & enter into the inner lining of your heart causing your heart valves to have problems.

My purpose in this post is not to ramble on about healthcare or to be dramatic or to throw scare tactics around; my main point is trying to highlight how important oral hygiene is! But, it doesn’t end there! The unfortunate part about the typical products used in our day-to-day teeth/gum care is that these products are made with difficult to pronounce chemicals & loads of plastic. So for this post, my goal is to not only highlight the importance of oral hygiene, but to stress the importance of a zero waste oral care routine that keeps you, your dentist, & the planet happy!

STEP #1: Floss

I personally like to floss first because it gets all the junk out of my teeth right away. I used go through those little plastic floss picks like they were going out of style, but I quickly realized how wasteful I was being by using them & wanted to switch to a more sustainable, plastic-free alternative.

When searching for plastic-free oral hygiene products, I hit the motherload when I found georganics . All of their products are hand-crafted, made from natural ingredients in small batches, their products are sourced as locally as possible, & their packaging is completely plastic-free. They don’t test on animals, the products are vegan & their ingredients are also ethically sourced & organic. Seriously, what more could you really ask for?

I found their natural spearmint floss on one of my favorite zero waste online shops – Package Free Shop (I plan on doing a master list blog post of zero waste online stores so stay tuned!). I have been using it for over a month & I absolutely love it. It works & feels just like the traditional floss that you’re used to, but much more eco-friendly & all natural! The floss is made from 100% compostable silk, coated with candelilla wax & flavored with organic essential oil. It is cruelty-free, has a reusable glass dispenser & metal cap so that you can just refill your little bottle, & the packaging is a compostable paper box.

STEP #2: Irrigation

This step is super important because it gets any residual food that could potentially cause bacteria build-up out of your mouth. When I say irrigation (I know it sounds really clinical & uncomfortable), I just mean using a waterpik. If you don’t know what a waterpik is, it’s a little electric irrigation system that forces a high pressure stream of water into your mouth to flush out food debris. Since using it, I still find food debris being flushed out of my mouth even after flossing, so this just adds an extra step of cleanliness. You can read more about waterpiks here. This is the waterpik that I use.

STEP #3: Brushing

Now it’s time to brush those pearly whites! Let’s start with the toothbrush! Most people are used to picking their toothbrush up at their 6 month routine cleaning at their dentist’s office or at the grocery store. But, as expected, these toothbrushes are made entirely of plastic. I switched my toothbrush to a bamboo one a few months back & I have found no difference in its’ effectiveness. This biodegradable bamboo toothbrush is the specific one that my husband & I have been using for the past few months. There are many positive features with this particular brand. The first being the packaging is completely plastic free. They use recycled biodegradable craft paper packaging both for the boxes on the outside & the individually wrapped toothbrushes inside the box. The handle is made entirely out of bamboo & each brush is numbered (set of 4 – labeled 1,2,3,4), so, if you have multiple people using them in a household there is no mix-up about which toothbrush belongs to each individual (unless you don’t remember your number!). As I have found with most toothbrushes, even the eco-conscious brands , the bristles are made out of nylon. Which means, although the handle is compostable, the bristles are not. Which means before composting or recycling your wooden handle you need to pull out the bristles with pliers & put them in the recycling bin before getting rid of the handle.

My next mission in the realm of eco-friendly toothbrushes is to try out different bristle hardness. Georganics also has a line of toothbrushes that has a great selection of toothbrush options. They offer soft, medium, firm or even kid bristles. I may give you all an update when I get a chance to try them out!

As I mentioned in a previous post, which you can see here, I have made a complete switch from traditional toothpaste to toothpaste bits. Bite has been all over social media for their simple tooth-tablet formula & for their sustainable packaging & shipping. The ingredient list is really the whole package when it comes to natural products that are easy to pronounce. The formula is fluoride free, gluten free, cruelty free, & vegan. And the best part is the plastic free packaging. The packaging consists of a glass bottle with an aluminum lid that holds the tablets. The bottle is then wrapped in paper & then nestled into a cardboard box & sealed with paper tape. In my review post about Bite, I also indicate that if you enroll with their subscription, your refills come in lighter weight marine-degradable, compostable packaging. Many people point out the weight of the product (glass) in relation to fuel usage & shipping, which is a fair point. But even though the toothpaste bits are initially shipped in a glass container, which tends to weigh more than traditional packaging, the subscription (which is more cost-effective & environmentally friendly) has the benefit of the compostable packaging.

Georganics, the other brand that I absolutely adore for oral care products, have their own tooth tablets formula. After doing a bit of research into their products, I have noticed that their formula for their tooth tablets differs from Bite’s formula, but in terms of products they seem to have much more variety. In addition to selling tooth tablets, they also offer tooth powder, natural toothpaste, & even toothsoap all packaged in glass with aluminum lids! They have tons of different flavor options (tea tree, spearmint, peppermint) & are sure to have something that appeals to everyone, even orange-flavored for those of you with kiddos! I plan on trying their range of products to see if I notice any differing effectiveness between them (tablets vs paste vs powder vs soap), so stay tuned!

STEP #3: Rinse

Whew! We finally made it to the last step of my zero waste oral care routine – rinsing with mouthwash! Most people include this step in their oral care routine, but for me it looks just a teensy bit different from most people’s regimen. When the word mouthwash comes to mind, I automatically envision that giant, blue, plastic bottle of Listerine sitting in everyone’s bathroom cabinet, but for this step, I have traded in my Listerine for a more eco-friendly option. Georganics, yet again, comes in to save the day with their mouthwash tablets. For their mouthwash tablets, they have an equally great flavor variety & the tablets are very simple to use. Just grab a tablet, dissolve it in 20 mL of water (I use a shot glass), & then gargle for about 30-40 seconds & then spit the liquid out into the sink without rinsing your mouth with water. Not only are these tablets user-friendly, but this option is extremely travel-friendly. It is one less thing you have to stuff into your quart-size liquids bag on a flight! You can just toss it into your carry-on bag & forget about it!

Tooth Be Told

I can’t help myself when it comes to puns! But in all seriousness, this is by no means a comprehensive list of zero waste/ sustainable oral hygiene products, it is just some of the products that I have used & found success with. I plan on continuing to research & try different products to find the most sustainable, cost-effective, & functional product to use. And if you are already a firm believer in zero waste oral hygiene & have tried other awesome zero waste oral care products/brands, I would love to hear from you! If you haven’t used these types of products in the past, are there reservations you have to beginning to use them? Either way, I’d love to hear your thoughts & any experiences you may have with these types of products!

Until next time…