638 N. Independence Blvd.
Romeoville, IL 60446
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Your Toothbrush Has a Footprint

Plastic toothbrushes in a replica recycle trash bin on white background

Help Reduce your Carbon Footprint in Honor of Earth Day/Week/Month with Biodegradable Toothbrushes and Recycling Options

April is Earth Month, Earth Week is April 19—23, and Earth Day is April 22. That means it’s time to think about how all of what we do on this planet affects it. We usually think about that impact in terms of healthy patients, clean teeth, and confident smiles. But those are not the only effects of what we do. Good home dental hygiene habits with the best intentions also have some unintended consequences. 

Have you ever thought about what happens to your old toothbrushes and all those empty toothpaste tubes, floss containers, and other packaging when you throw them away? The answer is pretty shocking.

Where Your Home Dental Care Products Go When You Toss Them

No point in sugarcoating it. There are a whole lot of old toothbrushes out there. But before we go on, let’s make one thing absolutely clear: that doesn’t change the best practice of using these products regularly and changing your toothbrush every three months or so. You need to continue doing that. But after you learn more, you might think differently about what you do with them when you’re done.

Here’s the inconvenient truth. “There are billions of toothbrushes used and discarded every year,” according to researchers at Trinity College Dublin as quoted in ScienceDaily’s, “Researchers ask: how sustainable is your toothbrush?”

A June 2019 article in National Geographic, How Your Toothbrush Became Part of the Plastic Crisis, explains “The American Dental Association suggests that everyone replace their toothbrushes every three or four months. At that rate, brushers in the U.S. alone would go through over one billion toothbrushes each year… Many toothbrushes are unrecyclable because the composite plastics most are now made of are difficult, if not impossible, to break apart efficiently.”

And that’s just the plastic toothbrushes. Much of the packaging of common dental care products is difficult or impossible to recycle, and doesn’t biodegrade. So that’s the bad news.

The Good News? Biodegradable Toothbrushes and Recycling Options

The good news is that people and companies have started to notice, and there are some great options that you can explore with your family to help do your part in protecting the environment while still protecting your teeth! Here are the top options we uncovered:

Alternatives to Plastic Toothbrushes:

The easiest of the options is to look for alternatives to plastic toothbrushes. Many popular retailers offer these more sustainable options:

  1. A toothbrush with a replaceable head, so you can keep the handle for much longer.
  2. A toothbrush made from more sustainable material like bamboo. There are many good ones!

Toothbrush Recycling Programs

This requires a bit more work, but not much when you consider the difference it will make! We found three readily available programs:

  1. Colgate® Oral Care Recycling Program: TerraCycle® and Colgate® have partnered to create a free national recycling program for all brands of used or empty oral care products and packaging.
     
  2. Crest and Oral-B “Recycle On Us” Program: The free Recycle on Us program helps tackle oral care waste like used toothbrushes, brush heads, toothpaste tubes, and dental floss, not processed through traditional recycling.
  3. Other toothbrush manufacturers: There are some great programs that offer points and discounts in exchange for sending in your old toothbrushes. A simple internet search will reveal a number of good options.

This is just the tip of the iceberg. We recommend doing a little research to find a program that works for your family. It could be a fun and rewarding project for your kids to manage!

Sustainable Dental Care on Earth Day and Every Day

Whether it’s April 22, the rest of that week, the whole month of April, or any given day, thinking about our impact – or footprint – on the environment matters. But so does your health! We challenge our patients and ourselves to establish sustainable, healthy habits for dental care and the unintended consequences of related waste. That’s a legacy we can all share proudly.

We’d love to hear if your family finds a sustainable alternative that works for you at your next visit, or anytime you want to call. You can contact us anytime. 

To schedule your visit now, fill out this form or call our office at 815-886-0875.

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