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By Chiara Spagnoli Gabardi
Brushing your teeth should be something that promotes good health. But the mainstream routine that many of us learned well before kindergarten means that we are probably hindering our health rather than helping it!
For example, many people still use fluoridated toothpastes, despite fluoride’s proven link to endocrine, brain development and bone problems, as well as cancer. If you care about your health, it’s imperative to use a natural toothpaste that’s free not only of fluoride, but sodium laureth sulphate (the same stuff they put in shampoo and soap!) You can find a good list of natural toothpastes here.
What’s more, dental floss is often coated in Teflon, which has been related to hormone disruption and birth defects, and regular toothbrushes are made of BPA or PVC based plastic for the base and other plastics for the bristles, which can leave toxic microparticles of plastic in your mouth.
Though it seems perfectly normal to rub chemicals across our teeth with plastic instruments, it wasn’t always so. Long before toothbrushes and toothpaste, people used rough cloths and water to clean their teeth. They would also rub things like salt and chalk across their teeth to try to get rid of the grime. The ancient Egyptians and Chinese made a sort of brush by splitting the end of a twig, and many in the Middle East and China still do this today.
Indigenous people around the world – who, unlike we in the West, typically boast a mouthful of flawless choppers – use herbs, twigs and roots to clean their teeth. Even the skulls of cavemen have mouthfuls of nearly perfect teeth. It’s believed that chewing anti-bacterial herbs like licorice root helped reduce plaque and cavities, not to mention a virtually sugar-free diet.
Indeed, according to Dr Joseph Mercola, there are many natural ways to avoid cavities: avoiding sugar, soda of any kind and refined carbs; getting plenty of Vitamin D; coconut ‘pulling’ and of course, gentle brushing with a natural toothpaste – preferably on a natural toothbrush.
A great choice would be a bamboo toothbrush. Here’s our list of 7 of the best, most ethical and eco-friendly brands.
Fete makes a party in your mouth with their anti-microbial, anti-fungal and anti-bacterial bamboo toothbrushes. Their bristles are BPA free, non-plastic nylon that won’t give off toxins like regular toothbrushes. They come in a pack of 4 because they can be used by the whole family this way, or if it’s just for you, you can switch over brushes after an illness (recommended so you don’t re-infect yourself) or when the bristles start to flatten. The brand also uses bright colours for the bristles to perk up your morning routine, and to make sure your family members don’t confuse your brush for theirs!
PearlBar Oral Care makes a planet-loving, 100% biodegradable, charcoal-infused, bamboo toothbrush which offers a better cleaning for human mouths. The brand’s bristles are infused with charcoal, which is one of nature’s best absorbing and cleaning agents. It which works perfectly not only for teeth and gum cleaning, but also for natural teeth whitening. PearlBar is not just kind to the planet but also its inhabitants: the brand donates 10% of all wholesale and retail orders to Greenpeace and The Salvation Army, so that for every 1000 toothbrushes sold, 100 brand new Earth-loving toothbrushes will go to people in need.
Brush with Bamboo’s handles are completely biodegradable, and they’re made entirely out of organic Chinese Moso Bamboo, which is watered only by natural mountain rain. The plant-based bristles are composed of 62% Castor Bean Oil, and 38% plastic – not perfect, but lower than commercial brushes that are 100% nylon. Plus, these bristles can be recycled. Furthermore, Brush with Bamboo is also a proud sponsor of 5 Gyres: a leading environmental group working to raise awareness about plastic pollution.
WooBamboo was launched on Earth Day in 2013, and since then, the brand has become available in over 1,200 stores in more than a dozen countries. The toothbrush handle is made of a kind of bamboo that pandas don’t eat – so there’s no need to worry about further endangering our furry friends. WooBamboo! also uses recycled and recyclable materials for its packaging and printing, and is proud of the fact that bamboo is much lighter than plastic, resulting in a smaller carbon footprint when they’re shipped.
Bogobrush began with a collection carved from natural bamboo and bristles made from nylon. Now, the nature-loving brand has taken huge leaps forward with a new collection that is the outcome of a plant-based bio-plastic, that is mixed with leftover plant material from American farms. The result is outstandingly beautiful and sustainable, since these toothbrushes can easily be recycled when it’s time to day good-bye.
The Environmental Toothbrush is designed in Australia and made in China. The handle is made of a kind of bamboo that re-generates itself with minimal rainfall and without the need for harmful pesticides. Crucially, the bristles are made from a BPA Free polymer, resistant to microbial growth during normal use. While some dentists recommend you replace your toothbrushes monthly, the Environmental Toothbrush can last over 8 months. Bonus!
This brand says they make toothbrushes use the least plastic possible – and while they do use plastic for the bristles, they have chosen the safest and highest quality possible, which is BPA-free. Of course, their handles are made from Bamboo, and their packaging is all plant based. As an added feature, they also donate a percentage of profits to children in need.