Your eco-conscience patients are making eco-friendly choices for the items entering their home. It may be time to for you to offer green options for them at the dentist as well. Implementing a few eco-friendly options into your dental practice can impress a patient and create a loyal patient for life.
There are many ways to implement more eco-friendly practices into your dental office. For example, you can send email or text appointment reminders in place of reminder cards; add office plants and air purifiers throughout the building; or switch to stainless steel prophy heads with disposable prophy-containing cups. These types of changes can contribute to greener dentistry. For the purpose of today’s discussion, we are going to focus on earth-friendly products for patients. That is, items that you can send home with patients to show that you too are mindful of mother earth.
Post exam, most dentists send their patients on their way with a toothbrush and floss so let’s start there.
Even though the plastic toothbrush does not get much attention in discussions about reducing waste, its impact on the environment is significant. A billion toothbrushes will be thrown away in the U.S. this year, most of them plastic. That is enough toothbrushes to stretch around the earth four times and equals 50 million pounds of plastic toothbrushes in the landfill. Many toothbrushes are not recyclable because the composite plastics in most of them are difficult, if not impossible, to break down. Plastic toothbrushes have a major negative impact on the environment. Many of your patients may be coming to that realization and would welcome the switch to bamboo toothbrushes.
Eco-Friendly Bamboo Toothbrushes
A bamboo toothbrush has a bamboo handle instead of a plastic handle. Although bamboo is sometimes mistakenly considered wood, it is actually a type of grass. As such, it grows quickly which makes it a highly sustainable material. Given it is a natural substance, it will decompose. Bamboo is incredibly sturdy, so it can hold up to everyday use just like plastic. It is also naturally antimicrobial and naturally biodegradable.
With proper care, a bamboo toothbrush will last as long as a conventional plastic toothbrush. The American Dental Association recommends replacing your toothbrush every 3 months, or when the bristles have frayed. The same holds true for a bamboo toothbrush.
In summary, a bamboo toothbrush has all of the pillars of a plastic toothbrush, but leaves significantly less of a footprint.
However, it must be said that a bamboo toothbrush cannot be recycled in its entirety. Most bamboo brushes contain metal or aluminum staples and nylon bristles. The bamboo handle and aluminum are compo-stable and biodegradable, however, the bristles and some metal staples are not. One must either break off the head in its entirety, then recycle only the handle. Or, one must remove the bristles and staples (if not aluminum) from the head, then recycle the bamboo portion.
Bamboo Toothbrushes: Two Types
There are mainly two types of Bamboo toothbrushes you may consider for your patients; those with nylon bristles and those with charcoal bristles. Each style has its own set of benefits.
Nylon bristles are the traditional type of bristles. They are firm enough to brush away bacteria on your teeth, yet they are softer than charcoal bristles. Nylon bristles are effective at gently cleaning teeth and gums. Our bamboo toothbrush has a compact head with high-quality nylon, BPA-free soft bristles that are end-rounded and polished for maximum effective cleaning while remaining gentle on teeth and gums.
Rather than sweep away bacteria like nylon bristles, charcoal-infused bristles bind and absorb bacteria to remove them from the mouth. These bristles are also ideal for whitening teeth. That said, they are not as gentle on teeth and gums and most patients may be accustomed to.
Adult patients are not the only ones who can make the switch to an eco-friendly toothbrush. Consider bamboo toothbrushes specifically designed for kids too. Mom & dad will appreciate it. Our Bamboo Junior toothbrush features a smooth and natural, ergonomic handle made of carved, naturally-grown bamboo for a comfortable hold and a compact head with soft bristles for gentle, effective cleaning.
Traditional dental floss is typically made with nylon which is a type of plastic. Nylon cannot be re-cycled. It also takes hundreds of years to biodegrade. Traditional dental floss is also coated in unhealthy chemicals to make it easy to slide between teeth.
When it comes to green options for floss, silk and bamboo dental floss are gaining traction. Silk is completely biodegradable and nonpetroleum-based, which is more than can be said for typical nylon dental floss. Several silk-based dental floss products on the market today also use beeswax or even plant-based wax rather than petroleum-based coatings. Bamboo floss is made of low-waste bamboo fiber. Bamboo floss is completely compostable. It starts to break down in as little as 60-90 days.
Lastly, if you generally send patients on their way with a take home bag, consider a recyclable plastic bag or a paper patient bag. Earth friendly and patient friendly!
Going green in the dental office does not have to be overwhelming. Start by making small changes, such as replacing a portion of your everyday dental supplies with more eco-friendly options. Eco-conscious patients will appreciate you when you present them with an eco-friendly hygiene products. With a few small changes you can make a big impression on your patients!
Sources: ADA.org, earthfriendlytips.com, nationalgeographic.com, ecoroots