Making Your Oral Health Care Sustainable (For the Planet and Your Wallet)

Maintaining good oral hygiene used to mean choosing between your health and the environment. Thankfully, there are more ways than ever to prioritize sustainability and your oral hygiene without breaking the bank. In this piece, we’ll provide tips on how you can revamp your oral care routine to be more sustainable—both for the environment and your budget.

Consider a Bamboo Toothbrush

Many people have been getting a plastic toothbrush from their dentists at their twice yearly cleanings for as long as they can remember. For some of us, replacing our toothbrushes with additional plastic is a task we don’t think twice about. However, there are plenty of sustainable options available on the market.

Arguably, the most sustainable toothbrushes available are made of bamboo. Bamboo can grow in a variety of harsh conditions and reaches full growth far faster than trees can. Since these toothbrushes are entirely natural, they can be tossed into your compost bin when it’s time for replacement. Just be sure to remove the bristles first if they aren’t also biodegradable. 

Even better, bamboo toothbrushes usually cost around $5. Since you only need to replace a toothbrush 3–4 times a year, your annual toothbrush budget will be just $15–$20. These toothbrushes can even save you money in other areas, by reusing the bamboo portion for plant markers or the whole brush for cleaning. 

Choose Braces Over Aligners

There are plenty of modern ways to straighten your smile, but the ones that have been around for centuries tend to be the most sustainable. That’s right, traditional braces are comparatively better for the environment than clear aligners. 

Clear aligner treatment involves wearing plastic trays that gradually move your smile into alignment. Since these trays can’t be tightened like braces wire, you’ll need to switch to a new tray about every two weeks. The standard Invisalign treatment length is 12–18 months, which means you’d be using dozens of plastic trays in your pursuit of a new smile. 

In this way, braces are a much more sustainable alternative. However, some models offer more sustainability than others. For instance, traditional braces use small elastic bands to hold the archwire in place. At each appointment (every 4–8 weeks of treatment) your orthodontist will tighten your archwire and replace your elastics. This means you’ll be using hundreds of small elastics during your treatment.

If you’re looking to decrease your plastic use as much as possible, you could consider self-ligating braces. This option replaces the elastic bands with metal clamps, so your treatment will have significantly less waste. 

Best of all, braces London are typically more affordable than in-office clear aligner treatments like Invisalign—so you won’t be stuck with a disproportionate bill in your pursuit of sustainability. 

Be Intentional With Aftercare Retainers

The most sustainable retainer model is a permanent retainer. This consists of a thin wire affixed behind your teeth. It usually costs between $150–$550 and can last over ten years without replacement. Typically, permanent retainers can only be worn on one arch, so it’s likely you’ll need to opt for a removable one for your other arch. 

Unfortunately, when it comes to removable retainers, plastic is a little less avoidable. There are plastic retainers that look nearly identical to clear aligners and there are Hawley retainers which are a combination of metal and plastic or acrylic. 

Hawley retainers are longer lasting than fully plastic options, so if you decide to have a removable retainer, the Hawley model will have a smaller footprint. Unlike fully plastic options, the Hawley retainer can be repaired, so there are plenty of opportunities to expand its lifespan. Hawley retainers usually fall between $150–$550; and since they can last years, you won’t need to replace them anytime soon. 

Photo by Candid on Unsplash

Switch Up Your Floss Habit

Traditional floss isn’t particularly environmentally friendly. That’s because it’s usually made of nylon, so it can’t be recycled or composted. Additionally, dental floss often comes in a plastic container—which won’t biodegrade either. 

Fortunately, floss doesn’t have to be in a landfill forever. There are a number of biodegradable and recyclable alternatives—both in terms of the floss itself and the container. Sustainable floss comes in many forms, like silk, bamboo and charcoal. Typically, these come in glass containers that you can refill when you run out. 

Sustainable floss typically costs between $4–$9, which is pretty on par with traditional options. If you purchase a refillable option, your future refills will be cheaper since you won’t be paying for the glass container with each purchase. 


Not only is it possible to make your oral care routine more eco-friendly, doing so is likely to save you money in both the short and long term. With these tips informing your future research, you can build an affordable and eco-friendly oral care routine in no time.

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