We all want nice teeth and bright smiles but I think as a consumer, it is important to make conscious choices – to know your products and learn what alternatives are out there that are sustainable, produce minimal waste, and contribute to a simple daily routine.
I should probably mention that I have a slightly more complicated history with my oral health than most as I was born with a cleft lip and cleft palate. Essentially, it meant that I had to have a number of surgeries to reconstruct the bone in my upper jaw, but perhaps I’ll save the details of that for another post. ^_^”
Anyway, I suppose you could say that my condition and subsequent surgeries led me to be very grateful and extra appreciate of my oral health. I was lucky enough to receive dental implants as well as years of braces that helped to straighten my teeth and normalise my bite. So after all that, you can be sure I was inclined to take extra good care of my mouth so I could keep my teeth for life.
Enter my oral hygiene routine.
Originally, my routine didn’t differ from the average person: standard toothbrush, toothpaste, and dental floss. Maybe even the occasional rinse from a store-bought mouthwash. Brush twice a day, try to remember to floss, and visit my dentist once or twice a year.
After I decided I wanted to be more conscious of simple living and produce less waste, I did some research into sustainable or “almost” zero waste alternatives. I was excited by the idea of making my own products so I dived straight in!
I trialled some recipes for toothpaste and mouthwash, but these are the ones that worked best for me in terms of simplicity and minimal ingredients:
DIY – Make your own toothpaste!
Ingredients: Bicarbonate of soda + Virgin coconut oil
Make: Mix the two ingredients in a small jar until you get a paste consistency.
Use: I use a small stick to scoop some paste onto my toothbrush. Brush your teeth as usual using small circular motions. Spit. Floss. Rinse.
Note: You can add peppermint essential oil for that minty flavour if you like. I found I actually preferred this recipe without it, but experiment and see where it leads you. ^_^”
DIY – Make your own mouthwash!
Ingredients: Water + Hydrogen peroxide (3% solution).
Make: I actually make this mouthwash as I need it. I use half a capful of peroxide and add it to half a measuring cup of water (about 125 ml).
Use: I use this every couple of days or so to rinse my mouth after brushing and flossing. Simply gargle as you would a regular mouthwash for about 15 seconds and spit out.
Please note: Hydrogen peroxide will whiten your teeth, but I don’t recommend daily use as it could make teeth and gums sensitive.
I have looked at the possibility of moving from plastic toothbrushes to bamboo toothbrushes which are compostable, but as I used to work for a dentist, I still have a small supply of soft plastic toothbrushes that my partner and I need to use up before we try bamboo.
I currently still use regular floss (again, small supply from work), although I have noticed a lot of zero waste bloggers/YouTubers promoting a certain brand of silk floss made in Germany that comes packaged in a glass vial. Maybe something I’ll look into at a later time, though other than being less waste, it is not a local product by a local company that necessarily meets my criteria for sustainability and simple living.
A tip on recycling toothpaste tubes and floss containers: In general, oral health products tend to end up in landfill. However, if you choose to continue buying your toothpaste, floss, and mouthwash products you can still reduce your waste by sending your used product containers to TerraCycle. They have branches in countries all across the world and recycle the odd items that would normally go to landfill. Best of all, it’s a completely free service. You just collect your empty containers and print off a reply-paid label to send it to them. For more information, please check out their website. ^_^”
So this is my new daily oral health routine:
- Use a stainless steel tongue scraper – removes excess bacteria and prevents bad breath.
- Brush my teeth with my DIY toothpaste (currently still using a plastic toothbrush but hoping to transition to bamboo toothbrushes in future).
- Bonus tip: Use your soft-bristled toothbrush to buff and exfoliate your lips! Just use water and use gentle circular motions. No more need for lip scrubs!
- Floss – I use a combination of Super Floss which has a hardened end for between my dental implants, and regular floss for all my other teeth.
- I use my DIY mouthwash every other day (not daily) to whiten my teeth and maintain gum health.
- On a side note, because I used to wear braces, I have a retainer that I need to regularly wear when I sleep. I use the same DIY mouthwash to soak my retainers and clean them before putting them in for the night.
- Bonus tip: Rinsing your mouth and gargling with a salt water solution will help with any gum bleeding or inflammation you may have. This can be easily helpful if you are guilty of not always flossing daily like I am -_-” Just add a teaspoon of salt to a cup of warm water to dissolve. Swish, gargle and spit. Any type of salt will do. I personally use pink Himalayan Rock Salt because it’s what’s on hand.
I hope that my adventure in simplifying my oral health routine has given you some ideas in not only being a more eco-conscious consumer, but also getting you to embrace the concept of self-reliance that making your own products entails.
Thank you for coming on this simple adventure with me. ^_^”
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