I love making sustainable swaps in my household when I can, but there are a few swaps that I’ve always been hesitant to make. Anyone have any of those? Whether it’s ditching single-use plastic when grocery shopping (this is likely to be my last frontier, if I ever get there) or always remembering to bring my own tupperware containers to restaurants for my leftovers, there are just some aspects that I’ve been unsuccessful at really leaning into. And honestly, until recently, one of those other areas was my dental care routine.
There is one very rational reason for this: cleanliness. I think a lot of people will resonate with this one - I’ve always been a bit dubious that non-traditional dental care products would really take care of my teeth. How could products designed as “natural” and “plastic-free” stand up against mass-manufactured oral hygiene products? Nevermind that the products I was using were covered in plastic and often contained harsh chemicals that could be damaging to the environment - this was the health of my mouth we were talking about! Suffice it to say, it was a struggle for me.
But when I finally ran out of fluoride-free toothpaste a while back and was left with some excess natural products, for the sake of my curiosity (and because I really didn’t feel like taking an extra trip to the grocery store), I decided to just give the natural tooth products a chance.
So what did I try? Tooth Suds made by small business (and former Colorado company, now based in Arizona) Alo Goods, and compostable dental floss made in California by Huppy.
I had given Tooth Suds a shot the summer prior for a two-week stint while my partner and I trekked around southern Europe with nothing but a carry-on-friendly backpack apiece. For these purposes, this toothpaste bar was perfect - it was lightweight, TSA-friendly, and easier to tote around than multiple travel-sized toothpaste tubes. But when I got home, I was happy to switch back to my usual toothpaste. I just hadn’t been ready for that swap yet. Similarly, I had tried out other non-plastic flosses in the past. But many of these flosses were less sturdy than their plasticky counterparts, and on one occasion I remember getting a strand of silk-based floss caught so badly in my teeth that it took about 15 minutes, several strands of traditional plastic floss, and a floss pick to dislodge it from between my back molars. It was such a jarring experience that at one point while trying to wiggle anything underneath the steadfast-and-stuck floss that I even considered calling my dentist at 9:30 pm at night. Not exactly what I would consider an eco-friendly triumph.
But after a while (and some gums-oriented healing from floss excavation) I decided I was ready to give it a shot again. And anyway, my traditional toothpaste was all used up - now was time to take the leap again. So I pulled out a bar of Tooth Suds and swapped to a new plant-based floss - this time opting for Huppy Dental Floss - and committed to a new oral care routine.
And it worked! My mouth always felt clean and refreshed, my gums were thrilled with the new floss (no more strands breaking or getting stuck between teeth), and my daily routine transitioned quickly to a zero waste one. All my used floss I could drop right in my compost bin, and I got to say goodbye to those single-use toothpaste tubes.
And here’s the best part: After switching to these more natural products, I realized I was signed up for an upcoming dentist appointment. Talk about nerve-wracking! This would certainly settle my debate whether these products were up to the task of replacing traditional tooth products. On the day of my appointment I walked the three blocks to my local dentist and checked in, unsure of what was in store for me beyond the waiting room. I was also keenly aware that I was five months pregnant - the perfect potential storm for pregnancy gingivitis, if these products really hadn’t worked as well as I had hoped.
During my cleaning, my dentist remarked at how clean my mouth was, and even exclaimed while she flossed between my teeth that I had no bleeding, and nearly 99% of her patients’ gums bled during appointments, so I must be doing something right! I left cavity- and gingivitis-free, and downright walking on clouds. I had gotten my answer - these products did work! Woohoo!
When it comes to some sustainable product swaps, you won’t always feel ready, and I want to stress that that’s okay. It took me nearly three decades to consider transitioning to more earth-friendly oral care products, and even longer to bite the bullet and just do it. The first time, the results weren’t exactly optimal, and I gave myself time to back away and return to my normal products. Giving myself that grace allowed me to retry months later - and this time I was successful! Your sustainable journey is 100% your own, and you are never expected to be perfect - or do things that feel entirely out of your comfort zone. But every once in a while, it might feel good to push your boundaries; you never know what great new habits and routines could come of it!
Shop Sustainably With Us!
At Summit Sustainable Goods, we love introducing you to new sustainable products, such as locally sourced Tooth Suds and compostable dental floss. We take extra steps while vetting products to ensure that all our zero waste household care and personal care products are truly environmentally friendly and oriented around true sustainability. We work with our suppliers to make sure all the products we sell are truly safe for the environment and your body - because we believe that you and mother nature both deserve the best. It’s just another way we live into our values of being as environmentally and ethically conscious as possible.
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