We all know by now that plastics are a big problem. We only have to sit through a few minutes of one of the many documentaries focusing on plastic pollution to see the devastating effects that this material is having on marine environments and the creatures that live in them.
It’s likely that you’ve even made some changes to your plastic consumption, cutting down on single use plastics and other items that can be easily avoided. But have you considered the plastic items you use for longer periods such as your toothbrush?
Since the invention of nylon in the 1930s, toothbrushes have been predominantly plastic. The design of the toothbrush has not progressed much since this point, and this is having a huge impact on our environment as billions of these items get thrown away every year.
It’s generally recommended that you replace your toothbrush or toothbrush head every 3-4 months. This is because harmful oral bacteria can build up in the bristles, and if the bristles become frayed, they do not clean your teeth and gums as effectively.
Now, if we assume that every single person in the UK is replacing their toothbrush every 3 months, that means that as many as 264 million toothbrushes are being thrown away each year. As these items are made up of different types of plastics, they are non-recyclable. It’s therefore common for them to end up in rivers, seas and other aquatic environments if they are improperly disposed of.
So, what are the options available if you want to reduce plastic in your oral health care routine? The main problem with toothbrushes is that a viable, fully biodegradable option isn’t really available on the market.
There are a number of good toothbrushes made from substances such as bamboo or recyclable plastic, though these will inevitably still have non-recyclable nylon bristles. However, choosing these options will still cut down your plastic waste considerably.
On the other hand, there are some brushes that use natural materials including animal hair for the bristles. These options are fully biodegradable but they do come with their downsides. As they use animal hair, they are not suitable for vegetarian or vegan individuals. Furthermore, some sources suggest that animal hair is too coarse and can damage the teeth. There is also the possibility that because animal hair retains moisture more than plastic, that bacteria build up in these brushes is much higher than plastic alternatives.[i]
In the end, the best option is likely to be to opt for a toothbrush made from a biodegradable material that uses nylon bristles. Although this will still contribute to the plastic problem, these brushes do generate considerably less plastic waste and can still achieve an effective oral clean. Until a better alternative is created, lessening the environmental impact of your toothbrush is the best step available.
For further information please call EndoCare on 020 7224 0999
Or visit www.endocare.co.uk
[i] The Independent. 6 Best Bamboo Toothbrushes., Link: https://www.independent.co.uk/extras/indybest/fashion-beauty/best-bamboo-toothbrushes-plastic-pollution-biodegradable-bistles-dental-care-eco-friendly-a8411536.html [Last accessed July 19].