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    How to Have an (Almost) Zero Waste Oral Care Routine

    When we think about our oral care routine it may be easy to feel there is little connection between how we care for our mouths and how we care for the environment - but this simply isn’t true.

    In an average American lifespan (75 years), a person will throw away 300 standard toothbrushes.

    To look at it another way - a single standard toothbrush weighs about 0.63oz, each of us will throw away around 12 pounds of standard plastic toothbrushes in our lifetime.

    Let’s think about that figure on a global scale - there are 7.6 billion people in the world, collectively we will generate 91 billion pounds of plastic toothbrush waste in our lifetimes.

    A standard toothbrush is made of nylon bristles and a hard plastic handle and usually is sold in a plastic package. While the advancement of the toothbrush design to its current form has been great for aiding more thorough teeth cleaning, the materials they are now made from cannot be properly recycled. These petroleum products do not biodegrade, if incinerated they release toxic chemicals into the environment and suck up valuable fossil fuels.

    These facts certainly make us look at our humble toothbrush in a different light.

    Brushing our teeth daily though is the best way to fight against tooth decay and oral disease. Fortunately, we don't have to choose between the health of the planet and the health of your mouth. With just a few environmentally friendly changes to our oral care routine, we hold the power to positively impact the environment, while still maintaining beautifully shiny teeth.  

    Let’s now look at how we can make simple changes to our oral care routine to help lower waste, and make that first step into a more conscious, zero-waste kinda life.

    # 1 - Your Toothbrush:

    There are a lot of options out there for recyclable toothbrushes. The most environmentally friendly is the bamboo toothbrush. This toothbrush is made from bamboo which is a biodegradable material and is quickly becoming a renewable resource. The bristles are BPA free, and while not biodegradable they can be recycled.

    We have come to love Brush with Bamboo, even the packaging is biodegradable. They also have a fantastic short-video about the life of a toothbrush, which is definitely worth a watch.  

    #2 - Your Toothpaste Tube:

    Homemade toothpaste is surprisingly easy, cost savvy and more importantly, it means you can reuse the container you made it in - no more throwing out toothpaste tubes. Here is a great toothpaste recipe from DIY Natural. The recipe is made up of 3 ingredients and takes just a few seconds to make.

    If making homemade toothpaste is a little bit daunting then opt to buy toothpaste that is packaged in recyclable containers such as glass jars.

    # 3 - Your Dental Floss:

    Traditional dental floss containers are rarely recyclable or recycled. The floss itself is sometimes coated with a chemical contaminant that helps it glide through gums more easily but means the floss cannot be recycled.

    If flossing is too big a thing to give up, then when it is time to buy a new reel, try refillable dental floss made of 100% mulberry silk. We like the ones from Package Free. They are made from mulberry silk floss and coated in vegan candelilla wax.

    # 4 - Your Mouthwash:

    Much like toothpaste tubes, we can reduce plastic wastage by making our own mouthwash. It’s super easy and leaves you feeling pretty stoked at yourself for making your own environmentally friendly, AND very effective mouthwash.

    Again, the recipe from DIY Natural is great - it’s just 3 ingredients, it can be made with your eyes closed, and it won’t burn your mouth like conventional mouthwashes. Made in a mason jar, which can be reused again and again.  

    Jumping into the deep end and going 100% zero-waste with an oral care routine might be too overwhelming for some, if so then start off small. Try changing one thing, such as using a biodegradable toothbrush, then over time slowly change the other items until you are at zero or minimal waste.

    In the meantime choose to use a recycle company such as TerraCycle who are committed to recycling unwanted toothbrushes, toothpaste tubes, dental floss containers, and the packaging they come in. They turn them into plastic lumber and other types of consumer products. To recycle your toothbrush and similar plastic items all you have to do is mail them to TerraCycle using the instructions on the website.

    At the start of this blog, we showed the environmental impact the humble toothbrush is having on our earth. Just imagine if we all made that simple switch to a biodegradable toothbrush and what a positive impact it would have on our environment. Better still it can help us to think a little bit more deeply about what we are using on a day-to-day basis and the consequences - because it is the things we do today that will make an impact on our tomorrow.

    What Does Your Tongue Say About Your Health?

    Stand in front of a mirror. Stick out your tongue. Have a long hard look. Why am I making you do this odd little exercise? Because examining your tongue is something many people don’t take the time to do, yet this small little exercise can be like looking through a viewfinder to get a glimpse of your overall health. What you see on your tongue can tell you a range of different things - from simple things, like that you may have a vitamin deficiency, to indications of significant health threats like cancer.

    Ok, so now I have your attention. Are you ready to compare whats going on on your tongue with the following signs? Grab your hand mirror, get comfy at your computer, and read on.

    This may get a little graphic, so if you are the squeamish type, please read with caution.

    Does your tongue have a white coating or white spots?:

    Oral Thrush:

    A white “cottage-cheese-like” coating on your tongue could mean you have a yeast infection. When this develops inside the mouth, it is referred to as Oral Thrush. It can lead to taste disturbances, pain, and discomfort, and indicates a weakened immune system. Either a yeast or fungal overgrowth can cause oral thrush, the most common being candida overgrowth. Antibiotics can cause this overgrowth to occur.  When you take an antibiotic, which selectively kills off bacteria, it can allow yeast, which is not killed by antibiotics, to take over,” says Dr. Dale Amanda Tylor, MD, MPH, General, and pediatric otolaryngologist at Washington Township Medical Foundation. Oral thrush is mostly seen in infants and the elderly or people with a weakened immune system. It can’t be treated with over-the-counter medicines, so see your doctor if you feel you may have a yeast infection.


    A condition where thick white patches form on your tongue and inside the mouth.  It is mostly caused by tobacco smoking. While it is not inherently dangerous in itself and often goes away on its own if you quit smoking, it can be a precursor to cancer. If you notice signs of Leukoplakia, then see your dentist right away for a full evaluation.

    Is your tongue a bright red color but you haven’t eaten a bowl of beets?:

    Vitamin deficiency:

    A bright red tongue could indicate you are deficient in vitamins B12 and iron.

    “Vitamin B12 and iron are needed to mature papillae on the tongue,” says Naomi Ramer, DDS, director of Oral & Maxillofacial Pathology at Mount Sinai Hospital. “If you are deficient in those vitamins, you lose those papillae, which can make your tongue appear very smooth.” Being low in these vitamins can also cause a host of other symptoms such as low energy, anemia, heart palpitations, muscle weakness, and more.

    Geographic tongue:

    Geographic tongue is used to describe a tongue that looks like a bumpy terrain. This is a very normal and common condition. Affecting between 1-14% of the population in the USA. The cause isn’t known, but links have been drawn to taste buds: “Taste buds sometimes can randomly shrink away,” says Dr. Tylor. “They can regenerate, so some go away, and some don’t.” Typically geographic requires no treatment and will go away on its own, however, if it’s giving you pain, see your local GP. He may be able to prescribe anti-inflammatory steroid paste or antihistamine paste.

    Is your tongue black and hairy?

    This could mean you don’t have the best oral hygiene regime and you just need to give your mouth a good old scrub.

    “We have papilla, small bumps on the surface of our tongue, which grow throughout our lifetime,” explains Ada Cooper, DDS, an American Dental Association consumer advisor spokesperson and practicing dentist in New York City.  Papillae are a lot like hair; they can grow long making them more likely to harbor bacteria. When the bacteria grows, it can cause the tongue to look black, and the overgrowth of papilla can take on a “hairy” appearance.

    A black hairy tongue is not common and most of the time can be corrected by practicing good oral hygiene and care.

    Is your tongue sore and bumpy?

    Canker sore:

    Aka mouth ulcers are punched out sores either on the tongue or inside the cheeks. The exact cause isn’t known, but these lesions are common in people who are run-down, stressed, or have a viral infection. They can be very painful for the first 4-5 days but will slowly disappear within 2 weeks.  Treatments include gargling warm salt water, and eating soft foods until the swelling does down. Also, over the counter, anti-inflammatory creams can help manage the pain.

    Oral cancer:

    Persistent red lesions on the tongue that don’t go away can be a sign of tongue cancer. Get this checked out immediately by your GP. “With tongue cancer, you often think of an older, unhealthy person,” says Dr. Tylor. “But if you’re young and healthy and you have these, it doesn’t mean you’re OK. I’ve seen it in a 17-year-old girl.” Even if you have no pain still get it checked out as many oral cancers don’t cause pain in the early stages.

    Ok so it's time – get in front of that mirror, stick out your tongue and look for the signs. If all is well, give yourself a pat on the back and get on with your day. If you see something a little worrisome then don’t wait to act, take the steps needed to correct the problem, after-all the tongue is a mirror to your health.

    Could Your Teeth Be The Reason Why You Can’t Get a Good Night's Sleep?

    Glorious sleep. We love it when we get eight hours of it (though this is becoming rare for most). Are you the kind that groans when the alarm goes off, clumsily hitting the snooze button because it feels like only ten minutes ago your head hit the pillow? Or are you of the kind that sleeps solidly and wakes up ready to conquer the world?! If you identify more with the former group - waking up sleep-deprived, and the only thing coaxing you out of bed is the idea that in a few minutes you can down a cup of coffee that is going to give you that needed jolt to start the day! Well, I’m here to tell you that while this may be common it is not normal.

    There are many reasons why you may not be getting a good night’s sleep. One reason that may not have occurred to you, is that there may be a link between the quality of your sleep and the condition of your mouth and teeth. Here are just some ways your teeth could be the culprit of not enough Zz’s when the lights go out.

    Teeth Grinding and it's Relationship to Deep Sleep

    Teeth grinding and clenching of the jaw (sometimes referred to as Bruxism) can occur unconsciously as we sleep. There are many reasons for teeth grinding, such as TMJ disorder, stress and/or tension in the surrounding muscles of the jaw, neck, and shoulders, to name just a few. Continuous teeth grinding or jaw clenching can result in the flattening of teeth and the wearing down of tooth enamel, it can also lead to exposing the tooth's root. How can this interrupt sleep?

    Basically, the body goes through five sleep cycles every 90 minutes. Across these 5 stages, we go from very light sleep (stage 1) to very deep sleep (stage 4), then lastly to REM (rapid eye movement stage) aka our “dreaming-time” stage. Stage 4 of this cycle is where our body “should” completely relax. The body rebuilds muscle and tissue, recharges cells, and preps us for the day ahead. Sounds lovely, doesn’t it? Teeth grinding can interfere with this stage of sleep, not allowing the body to do its restorative work. Therefore when that dreaded alarm clock blares, you feel like you are just as tired (if not more so) than when your head hit the pillow.

    Crowded Teeth and Jaw Misalignment Can Be Linked to Sleep Apnea.

    Sleep apnea is a disorder that can temporarily cause a person to lose the ability to breathe. The person will wake up briefly to restore breathing. These waking moments are brief in duration (a few seconds at most) but can have a dramatic effect on a person's health by interrupting their precious sleep cycle. Crowded teeth and jaw misalignment can obstruct airways and stifle breathing during sleep leading to the side-effect of sleep apnea.

    Gaps in Your Teeth and a Swollen Tongue Interfere With Breathing

    Gaps in your teeth may indicate that you have a tongue thrust. Tongue thrust refers to the tongue pressing up against the teeth or between them while swallowing. We swallow thousands of times a day, in the case of tongue thrusters, the tongue moves inappropriately to the sides, rather than forward to the teeth. This then leads to gaps and misalignment of the teeth. Improper tongue positioning can also occur while the tongue is at rest, in which case it may lie too far forward forcing the person to breathe through their mouth. This obstruction to breathing along with misalignment of teeth can lead to constant interruptions of sleep during the night.

    So, What Can be Done?

    If you feel you fall into one of the categories above, and think your mouth/teeth are causing you a bad night's sleep, what can be done to help you? Regular visits to the dentist will help monitor any signs of teeth grinding or jaw clenching. If a pattern is perceived by your dentist then he can recommend a course of action for you. Remember too, that teeth grinding can be a side-effect of muscular tension or excessive worrying, so look at the complete picture to ensure you can break the habit for good.

    If you feel you suffer from sleep apnea, a visit to your local GP can help put you on the right path. He may suggest a sleep clinic, which will monitor your sleep patterns and give you a more rounded picture of your sleep cycle to best find out the cause of your sleep issues. If obstructions to your breathing pathway, such as those caused by jaw misalignment, crowded teeth, or tongue thrust, are shown to be the cause of your sleep apnea, then a referral to an orthodontist or orofacial myologist may be advised.

    Here we have looked at how issues with your teeth can be the reason for a less than perfect nights sleep. Getting a good night's rest is absolutely vital to our lives and our overall health. So don’t endure one more sleepless night, go and see your local dentist today. The sooner you do the sooner you can get to that glorious feeling of uninterrupted “Zz’s” as you wander off into dreamland.




    Saving Kid's Baby Teeth - Is it Gross, Cute, Or a Smart Investment in Their Future?

    Did you ever receive money from the tooth fairy?

    Most of us did when we were kids. Whether it was your first baby tooth that fell out or your tenth, your parents surely helped you celebrate becoming more “grown up.”

    The question is: What did the tooth fairy (AKA Mom and Dad) do with your baby teeth afterward?

    Why do some parents save their kids’ baby teeth – and why do some think it’s gross. We’ll also examine some new scientific research that shows saving baby teeth may be a wise investment for the future.


    Tooth Savers

    Yes, there’s a large group of parents out there who keep their kids’ baby teeth after they fall out.

    Ok, baby teeth can be sentimental and you can see why some parents may feel hesitant to just toss them in the trash, but what do they do with these teeth? Here are just some of the more interesting things I’ve seen parents who keep their children’s baby teeth do with them:

    •        Store teeth in a box or display case
    •        Collect all the baby teeth and string them together on a necklace
    •        Use the teeth in science fair projects, like showing how soda and coffee stain them
    •        Create a baby teeth scrapbook or album
    •        Sew them into “monster dolls” (apparently this is a thing)
    •        Sell them on Etsy or eBay (apparently, this is also a thing)

    We’re not sure how many parents are actually selling or sewing their kids’ teeth. The vast majority of families preserve baby teeth simply for sentimental purposes, perhaps with a cast of baby’s footprints or handprints too.

    Tooth Tossers

    For parents who are less sentimental – or perhaps just find other ways to show it – tossing those baby teeth is the path they choose.

    Sure, they may hang on to them for a little while after the Tooth Fairy has cashed in. Common places to keep baby teeth include baggies, boxes, and empty medicine bottles.

    Few families, though, preserve their children’s teeth for long periods of time. Many people find the idea silly, strange, or even creepy.

    Is there any viable reason to keep your kids’ teeth, other than sentimental value? The answer may surprise you!

    Why You Should Save Those Baby Teeth

    Unless you really had your heart set on selling those baby teeth on eBay, we’ve got a much better idea for you.

    A 2003 study showed that baby teeth are a rich source of stem cells. These are like “protocells” that can be used to grow many kinds of cells, if needed.

    This means that later in life, if your child needs replacement tissue somewhere in their body, stem cells from their baby teeth could potentially be used to grow the needed tissue.

    Pretty cool, huh?

    More than that, having your kids baby teeth around could potentially save their life!

    Stem cells are already widely used to treat diseases like Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, and diabetes. If your child is diagnosed later in life with certain types of cancer, the stem cells in their baby teeth could save their life, since they won’t have to wait for a matching donor to begin treatments.

    In order to use those stem cells, though, you can’t store the teeth in your attic. They need to be kept in a special facility, such as the Tooth Bank, which will store and preserve them in proper conditions.

    This way, if your child ever needs stem cell treatments in the future, they’ll have an option waiting for them.

    What are your thoughts on saving baby teeth? Would you consider doing it as an investment in your child’s health?

    Leave your comments below!

    The Link Between Poor Oral Health and Cancer

    Remember when you were a kid (or maybe even an adult) and your dentist stressed the importance of regularly brushing and flossing?

    He wasn’t only concerned with helping you prevent cavities or bad breath. The truth is that neglecting your mouth can lead to a whole host of serious health problems – including cancer.

    Interestingly, researchers have also noticed that many patients undergoing cancer therapy develop some type of oral complications.

    What does all of this mean? In this post, we’ll delve into the link between cancer and oral health.

    The Risk of Cancer

    First of all, is this just another scare tactic? Doesn’t everything give you cancer these days?

    Actually, this is one risk that can be backed up by many scientific studies. Consider a few recent findings:

    •        At Harvard University, researchers found that men with a history of gum disease had a 64% higher risk of developing pancreatic cancer than men with healthy teeth and gums.
    •        A study in the UK found that women with periodontal disease were three times as likely to develop esophageal cancer and twice as likely to develop gallbladder cancer.
    •        Another UK study found a 31% increased risk of lung cancer, a 23% increased risk of skin cancer, and a 13% increased risk of breast cancer in women with gum disease.
    •        A study at the University of Texas found that participants with poor oral health had a 56% higher risk of developing an oral HPV (human papillomavirus) infection than those who had good oral health. This virus has been linked to mouth and throat cancer.

    Clearly, the link between poor oral health and cancer exists. The question is: Why?

    Explaining the Link

    The short answer is that no one knows for certain why periodontal disease increases the risk of developing cancer.

    Scientists, though, have come up with a few interesting theories. The most popular one is that chronic inflammation in the gums triggers inflammation in other areas of the body – thus creating a perfect environment for cancer to grow.

    Other researchers are examining the bacteria associated with gum disease to see if it’s the trigger for certain types of cancer. This bacteria can travel to different parts of your body through your saliva. Since it comes in contact with your stomach and esophagus when you swallow, it increases the risk of developing cancer in these areas.

    Still, others look to the numerous things that gum disease releases into the mouth (and therefore body). These include inflammatory cytokines, chemokines, growth factors, prostaglandins, and enzymes. All of these factors are associated with cancer development.

    With more research, scientists will likely find a definitive cause-and-effect relationship between oral health and cancer. In the meantime, your best bet is to minimize your risk of cancer by continuing with your good oral routine.

    There’s one more link we want to touch on before we go. What if you or someone you love has already developed cancer and is undergoing treatment right now?

    The Link Between Cancer Treatment and Oral Health

    We’re familiar with the more common side effects of cancer treatment, including hair loss and nausea.

    But did you know that more than one-third of cancer patients also develop serious complications in their mouth? These range from minor annoyances like dry mouth to potentially life-threatening oral infections.

    Not only can these complications affect the patient’s quality of life, but they can also interfere with the cancer treatments.

    The National Institute of Dental Research recommends these tips for keeping your mouth healthy during cancer treatments:

    •        Soak an extra-soft toothbrush in warm water before you brush.
    •        Brush and floss daily and gently.
    •        Avoid mouthwash with alcohol.
    •        Sip water throughout the day to avoid dry mouth.
    •        Avoid spicy, sour, crunchy, very hot, or very cold foods.
    •        If you vomit, rinse your mouth with warm water and ¼ teaspoon of baking soda (don’t swallow).
    •        Contact your doctor if you develop any sores, swelling, or bleeding inside your mouth.

    Final Thoughts

    More research is needed to determine the exact connection between oral health and cancer.

    In the meantime, there’s already plenty of evidence that it’s a risk everyone should take seriously.

    To minimize yours, continue brushing and flossing daily and scheduling regular visits with your dentist.