Over the years we've tried a lot of green options when it comes to our dental care, and have evolved...a LOT. Whereas 15 years ago I was brushing with Tom's of Maine and thinking that was all I could do, or 10 years ago composting my natural dental floss, we've definitely upped our game, saving money along the way while being more planet-conscious.
Here's the basics:
Toothpaste: We finally found a homemade toothpaste recipe several years ago that is simple to make (baking soda, bentonite clay, aloe gel, stevia drops and peppermint oil) with ingredients we've easily found at our local sustainable (and union) grocery co-op. The part that makes me laugh? Yesterday I saw an almost identical recipe in a prepackaged pint jar being sold for just under $40. So there ya go. Anyhow, it's minty, it's healthy, and neither of us have had a single cavity since changing over to this back at the farm. NOTE: We tried toothpaste tablets and found them wildly overpriced, awkward to use, and taste like arse...not to mention that many of the tablets are crushed in the jars, so you're not getting what you pay for. Our DIY version is simply toothpaste without the tube (or the plastic, or the preservatives). Our toothpaste is stored, ironically, in the jar that the tablets came in, heh.
Floss: Oh how I love Etee's plastic-free floss! Prior to this we'd been using a EcoDent floss that came in a cardboard container...which always fell apart, and still had plastic components. Two years ago we discovered Etee, and loved that not only does it come in an eternally reusable metal container, the floss is silk and therefore compostable, and the packaging is plastic-free. NOTE: Rather than fall for the subscription models out there that increase the amount of shipping and therefore fossil-fuel miles? I buy at least a year's supply (which also ensures free shipping). It's awesome.
Toothbrush: The reusable head toothbrush is absolutely my favorite style, because no matter what material your toothbrush is made of, disposable is disposable. My husband's been using his TerraDent by EcoDent replaceable-head toothbrush for almost a DECADE - same handle, just replacing the heads a few times a year. When they stopped selling the soft replaceable heads that I prefer, I bought a mega box of refill heads for my husband, and switched over to Radius whose 'forever brush' toothbrush handles are made from - depending on the handle color - anything from wood to hemp to recycled soda bottles. However, while the bristles are plastic-free? Their replacement heads that hold the bristles are not. After doing a deep dive into bamboo replacement head toothbrushes, sadly, I'm discovering a LOT of greenwashing in most advertising, where sellers conveniently leave the fact that their bristles are nylon (i.e., fossil fuel based) to the fine print, bragging about the compostability of the bases (which you're supposed to have forever) but not the replacement heads (which need to be compostable way more than a 'forever brush' handle, for obvious reasons). One vendor I do see that has them? Etee! But they don't have any refill heads in stock...so I'm hanging tight til that happens.
Mouthwash: Not the most beautiful aesthetic of a jar full of liquid, so it's not pictured here, but as my husband does appreciate a good mouthwash, we also DIY that using Almost Zero Waste's recipe of water, aloe, baking soda, peppermint oil and xylitol, storing it in a mason jar. Insanely cheaper and no weird stuff in the ingredients. Woo hoo!
And along with the environmental benefits? No cavities since we transitioned. Oh, and telling the dentist 'no thanks' to their bag of plastic-laden products? Priceless.