by Hannah Daniel
When most people think of saving the planet, dental health is often left out of the equation, but taking care of your teeth can actually become a very green endeavor. From your own personal oral hygiene to your dentist’s office, you can ensure your teeth make a good impression.
Labs have to create dentures and tooth implants, and while these things are often necessary and helpful, you can still take steps to avoid them and prevent these labs from using more of the earth’s resources than necessary. Even the best-laid dental plans can still fail, especially if your teeth are naturally prone to decay, but taking care of your teeth can help you avoid the majority of oral health problems.
Green Dental Products
Fluoride has been the center of many debates in recent years. Since fluoride is a toxin and therefore should not be ingested in large quantities, many companies provide all-natural products that clean your teeth without the chemicals or toxins. These include ingredients like cranberry extract (helps block bacteria), strawberry extract (helps scrub teeth and wash away plaque), peppermint (freshens breath) and cinnamon (freshens breath and provides antiseptic).
Several companies use only local, all-natural ingredients with minimal processing for their toothpaste and mouthwash. By using natural ingredients, companies can eliminate the extensive processing system required for artificial ingredients. Some even use sustainable packaging for their products. Find a company that lists all its ingredients and sources to ensure the highest quality and the smallest carbon footprint. Some good brands to try are Tom’s of Maine, Burt’s Bees, Jason Natural Products and Dr. Ken’s. Brushing and swishing with green products can go the extra mile in protecting our planet and boosting your oral health at the same time.
It’s not just the patients. Dental offices have the potential to do either great damage or great good based on how they run their practices. Some dentists have decided to make their offices environmentally friendly in several ways:
- Use recycled products (or products made from recycled materials) in their offices
- Purchase reusable instruments and equipment that are safe to sterilize rather than replace every time
- Use biodegradable cups, seat covers, etc.
- Keep electronic records on patients rather than using scads of paper
- Communicate with patients electronically through e-mail and text messages
- Separate amalgam for fillings, which keeps harmful mercury from escaping into the environment
- Reduce landfill contribution by recycling the office’s waste
- Locate the office near a bus stop or other public mode of transportation
- Take digital X-rays rather than using extra plastic, lead and chemicals to develop traditional X-rays
- Replace fixtures with things like energy-efficient light bulbs and insulated windows.
Hannah Daniel writes for a dental blog backed by 1Dental.com, which offers an affordable alternative to dental insurance plans. She enjoys keeping people up to date on dental and health news and helping them maintain both dental and environmental health.
Dentist photo via shutterstock
Fabulous article! The Eco-Dentistry Association works to connect eco-friendly dentists with patients searching for a green option. Visit http://www.ecodentistry.org to find a green dentist in your area!