February 8, 2014
This week marked the beginning of the 22nd Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia. A few days before the games began, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security issued a warning that terrorists could be concealing explosives in toothpaste.
I’ve had dental health on the brain for a few weeks now, as I try to squeeze my daughter into a specialist to have a cavity filled. I was disappointed, frustrated and scared to learn that she had a cavity, especially since I thought I took such good care of her teeth. The Centres for Disease Control have been following a disturbing rise in cavities in children aged 2-5. Why? There are thought to be many contributing factors, including the use of bottled water rather than fluoridated water for children, and the increased availability of sugary snacks.
There is also wide debate on the effects of fluoride on human and environmental health. The CDC claims that there is no support for an association between fluoride and negative health impacts; however other groups disagree.
With my own dental health and the health of the environment on mind, last week I researched a few environmentally friendly toothpaste options. I’ve made the switch Tom’s of Maine toothpaste (about twice the price of my regular toothpaste), for the same reasons I discuss in my Week #1 blog. Tom’s of Maine makes products through sustainable manufacturing, recycled and recyclable packaging; ingredients are naturally-derived, not tested on animals and at least partially biodegradeable; and the company contributes to social causes. I’ve already been using their deodorant for several years. But reading the ingredient list I wonder how much of what’s in this toothpaste is really necessary. Tom’s website provides a great explanation of each ingredient and why it’s there.
Considering the fluoride content of the water we drink, combined with proper dental hygiene and and regular fluoride treatments at the dentist, making your own is likely a healthier option. There are tons of recipes on the internet, and I hope someday soon I have enough time and gumption to try one. Making my own would certainly reduce the extra packaging, and the carbon emissions of importing toothpaste from Maine. . .
Besides the environmental and health impacts of the toothpaste itself, there’s also the packaging to consider. The last tube I used I cut the top off to ensure I make use of every last pea-sized piece of paste. And I never flush floss down the toilet! Waste water treatment workers have a heck of a time de-clogging that mess. In fact, a recent report on CBC radio explained that the floss acts to bind and weave together other so-called “flushable” items into a giant carpet of gross.
So, for the sake of your own health, the environment, and those sewer workers, don’t rush or flush your brush.