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As more and more people reconsider plastic products, bamboo toothbrushes are becoming a popular alternative to the plastic kind. We produce more than 359 million metric tons of plastic every year, and a lot of it ends up in landfills. Plastic isn't designed to break down. Some plastic products like straws and toothbrushes are difficult to recycle. Bamboo toothbrushes aren't a new product, but before you make the switch, find out more about why bamboo may be an excellent alternative to reduce plastic waste at home.
What is a bamboo toothbrush?
Bamboo toothbrushes are manual toothbrushes, similar in design to what you would find on any store shelf. A bamboo toothbrush has a long handle and bristles to remove food debris and plaque from your teeth. The critical difference is that the long handle is made from more sustainable bamboo instead of plastic.
Bamboo toothbrushes are one of the oldest types of toothbrushes. The earliest toothbrushes were made in China using bamboo and other natural materials, like using boar's hair for the bristles. Today's bamboo toothbrushes use nylon for the bristles like most toothbrushes today. Some manufacturers still use boar's hair for the bristles or infuse the bristles with activated charcoal.
Are bamboo toothbrushes better for the environment?
Bamboo does have a smaller ecological footprint than plastic because bamboo plants grow quickly, regrowing what was taken for the production of the toothbrush. Bamboo is also biodegradable if used in its raw form, such as for toothbrush handles.
When the nylon bristles are removed, bamboo toothbrush handles can be composted, reused as garden plant markers, or other household uses! However, just like plastic toothbrush handles, they will take up space in a landfill if just thrown away.
Another advantage of bamboo is that it is naturally antimicrobial. There’s a reason cutting boards and kitchen utensils are made out of wood and bamboo. Unlike plastic, properties inside the bamboo kill bacteria that penetrate it’s surface, providing long-lasting protection against harmful bacteria.
Fully biodegradable toothbrushes do exist, with natural fibers for the bristles. Keep in mind that these natural bristles tend to be rougher than nylon bristles, possibly causing wear on your enamel and contribute to receding gums. Speak to your dental hygienist about biodegradable toothbrushes or environmentally-friendly toothbrushes, and they may have recommendations.
Are bamboo toothbrushes good for my teeth?
Bamboo toothbrushes can be just as good for your teeth as plastic toothbrushes. When choosing any kind of toothbrush, consider the size of the head, the shape of the handle, and the bristles. Toothbrushes that can easily fit into the narrow areas of your mouth with soft bristles and a comfortable handle are the best.
You should replace your toothbrush every three to four months or if there is visible damage to the bristles. Replacing your old toothbrush with a new one will help keep your teeth clean. Suppose you have more questions about switching to a bamboo toothbrush. In that case, your dental hygienist can make other recommendations that will keep your mouth healthy while considering plastic waste.
This article is intended to promote understanding of and knowledge about general oral health topics. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your dentist or other qualified healthcare provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or treatment.