Non Zero Waste oral hygiene
Tue, 27 Apr 2021 07:39:26 +0000
Last month, for the first time in my life, I went to the dentist.
Well, I went to “real” dentist: someone that wasn’t my dad.
My dad is my dentist, which means I never had to book an appointment (or pay any money, for that matter): he would just check my teeth every time I’d go home. But since I haven’t been home since September 2018, I figured I should probably go have my teeth checked somewhere else instead of waiting for the borders to reopen god knows when.
So I went, and let me tell you: it was the second most painful experience I’ve ever had to endure (running up real close to getting a facial: would not recommend).
After having my teeth cleaned by someone that yes, might have had a bit of a heavy hand according to my dad (to whom I faithfully reported every single detail), yet did her best to alleviate the agony and told me I was doing great, and still bleeding profusely and feeling absolutely everything in spite of the numbing gel, I had to acknowledge that maybe my oral hygiene practice had to be revised.
Getting myself a bamboo toothbrush was the first swap I made when I turned Zero Waste. Since 2016 I have used that, a homemade toothpaste or toothpowder, and I would love to say compostable floss but the reality is that I hardly ever floss and that’s actually why I now no longer have a Zero Waste dental practice.
But let’s proceed with order.
When I first told my dad that I was using a compostable bamboo toothbrush, he was skeptical. He was even more skeptical when I disclosed to him that I was making my own toothpaste, especially since the recipe I used involved baking soda. My dad, a big proponent of the “What cleans is not the paste, it’s the brushing” philosophy, believes that whatever you do, you should NEVER use baking soda in your toothpaste as it’s extremely abrasive. So I revised my recipe and saved my teeth from premature decay (bonus point: my toothpaste stopped tasting like salt).
After trying a toothpowder in Canada and really liking both the taste and the application method, I decided to put the toothpaste on hold tried to recreate the powder. It involved cinnamon, arrowroot powder, spearmint essential oil, and wasabi powder. It tasted like cake but also made me cry, so I ended up going back to the paste.
At some point I even made my own mouthwash by boiling fresh mint leaves with ginger (I used my friends’ recipe that you can find here), before remembering I never use mouthwash and I probably forgot it in the fridge and eventually had to throw it out.
Every time my dad checked my teeth after I had adopted a Zero Waste oral care practice, he couldn’t see anything wrong with them. However, at some point I started noticing that the left side of my mouth was becoming really sensitive to the cold and it hurt when I brushed it. So I reluctantly discarded my homemade toothpaste and accepted the fact that I had to use a toothpaste for sensitive teeth.
That helped, but the lack of flossing didn’t.
After getting years of plaque off my fangs, my lovely hygienist, who was competent and professional, told me that she was going to slap me in the face if I didn’t start flossing. She also told me to go and get myself an electric toothbrush, because apparently a bamboo toothbrush will never get the plaque out of my “very high gums”, which are now infected and require me to keep using a specific toothpaste for sensitive teeth.
So that’s how I accepted that I can’t be Zero Waste when it comes to brushing.
If there’s one thing I know is that I never want to sit through that teeth-cleaning pain ever again, and if an electric toothbrush is going to prevent that, you bet your boots I’m going to use one. Health will always come first to me, and a compostable toothbrush and homemade toothpaste clearly didn’t work for my teeth.
So this is what I’m currently using:
An electric toothbrush
I have this one from Oral B. I have researched more sustainable options but unfortunately I couldn’t find anything made in New Zealand, so I just went with what my hygienist recommended.
Sensodyne toothpaste for sensitive teeth
I’m finishing the one I had before, but next I’m going to use the one for both teeth and gums and see how it goes.
I would love to tell you that I’m using a silk compostable floss in a cardboard packaging, but I tried that once and the silk expanded between my teeth and got stuck and I had to get my flatmate to pull it out. So now I’m using this one by Grin, which is a brand I really love and want to support.
So there you have it, your reminder that sometimes you do the best you can but there are areas of your life where Zero Waste doesn’t work. And that’s ok! I tend to be very hard on myself but the truth is: you do what you can, and what works for you.
Does anyone have a similar experience with homemade toothpaste and compostable toothbrushes? Has anyone ever had to reverse back from a Zero Waste practice? I’d love to hear from you!