If you’re like most of us, you’re not thinking about saving the environment while going through your morning oral health routine. You’re likely thinking about that first cup of coffee or getting to the office on time for that way-too-early team meeting.
In the evening, you’re probably exhausted from the day and longing to bury yourself beneath that cozy down comforter with the latest bestseller, or binge-watch an entire season of your favorite show.
You’re not thinking about what’s in your toothpaste or where the tube will end up after the final hopeful squeeze, much less how much that innocent-looking, daily length of floss adds up. You’re not ruminating on the billions of dollars spent annually on dental products that pile up in our landfills.
But, you do care. And, there are actually many easy and eco-friendly ways that you can make a difference without making any radical changes to your daily routine.
It’s your choice whether you do just one of the things in the list below or go full throttle into saving the Earth. Even the little steps we take, when done by many, can make a huge difference in our local and global communities. All it takes is a little education and a commitment to a healthier world—and a healthier you.
Here are 3 small ways to make your dental routine eco-friendly:
. One of the easiest things you can do to save water, as well as money, involves a simple turn of your wrist. When brushing your teeth, turn off the water until it’s time to rinse. To prevent even more waste, use a cup to rinse rather than using your hand.
How much water can a dental routine save?
- Depending on factors such as how many times a day you brush and how long you brush for, you can conserve up to 8 gallons a day—over 200 gallons a month!
- The amount you save each month could fill four hot tubs a year. If just 100 people are doing that monthly, that’s 400 hot tubs. 1,000 people? 4,000! Wouldn’t you rather spend time in a hot tub over letting the water run while you brush?The average family of four wastes approximately 881 gallons of water a year.
- Teach children about the importance of water conservation while they’re young. This is a time where their sponge-like brains are soaking every bit of information in and lifelong habits form.
Use recyclable, eco-friendly dental products
. Purchase dental care products made of recyclable, natural or biodegradable materials.
Here's how to get started:
- Seek out eco-friendly dental products made of natural materials, such as bamboo and silk, at your local natural foods store.
- Call your local recycling facility and brush up on how to recycle your toothpaste tubes, toothbrushes, and dental floss containers. Even if they can’t process these types of plastics, they’re a great resource for connecting you to facilities or programs that can.
- Talk to your dentist about natural toothpastes. There are many products out there but not all of them provide the same oral health benefits as synthetic products. Your dentist will help you find the best natural toothpaste for you.
Find a green, or mostly green, dentist.
Who has more influence on a community and its dental health than a local dentist? There are many “green” dentists who practice eco-dentistry. If there isn’t one near you, don’t worry. Many non-green dentists practice eco-friendly techniques.
Eco-friendly dentistry techniques include:
- Using digital technology for everything from x-ray equipment to patient records
- Offering non-mercury fillings and have an amalgam separator (now required by law) to avoid adding toxins to wastewater
- Purchasing environmentally friendly dental, cleaning, and office products
- Running purifying equipment to keep toxins out of the office air
- Educating patients on eco-friendly and healthy ways to care for their teeth
The way you do even the smallest of things in your daily life can have far-reaching consequences. Being aware of the huge impact each of us can make on the environment is the first step to a better world and a better us.
That doesn’t mean you can’t still enjoy that morning cup of coffee or an evening of binge-watching. But, you’ll enjoy those things—and every other thing you do—even more if you know the way you’re doing them creates a domino effect that makes the world a healthier, safer place.