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For Dental Health Week (August 7-13), do your bit for your mouth and the planet with these 10 easy oral health hacks from the Australian Dental Association – they’ll set you on the road to a sustainable oral health routine for life.

1. Get your brush right: toothbrush technology has come a long way in recent years. You can now buy toothbrushes with handles made from sustainably-grown, biodegradable bamboo. So when the bristles reach the end of their life, typically at around three months, you simply remove them – check out what the manufacturer recommends as the best way to do this. Then, depending on your local council’s guidelines, you can put the bamboo handle into your green waste along with your grass cuttings.

There are now toothbrushes for sale from mainstream oral care brands where the head with the bristles can be removed from the aluminium handle with a simple click, and replaced with a new head. This has been introduced to reduce the amount of plastic from discarded handles from complete toothbrushes destined for landfill.

2. Tube blues: typically made from layers of plastic laminate and aluminium, toothpaste tubes have long-presented a recycling headache for makers and consumers. However Colgate has developed a recyclable toothpaste tube made from High Density Polyethylene, the same plastic used to make plastic milk bottles. This recyclable tube which is already on supermarket shelves for some toothpastes, can be put in the same recycling bin as your glass and plastics. Colgate is also sharing the technology with other toothpaste manufacturers, which is good news for the oral care industry and the environment.

You may also have heard of toothpaste tablets and while these may seem like a good idea due to the lack of packaging as they’re typically sold in glass or aluminium containers which are two of the most recyclable materials, most don’t contain the decay-busting ingredient fluoride. There’s also a lack of scientific evidence so far to demonstrate how effective toothpaste tablets are in terms of oral care, the ADA believes.

3. Less is more: adolescents and adults only need a pea-sized amount of toothpaste on their brush, and for small children it’s just a smear – no more is needed to provide your family’s pearly whites with all the protection they need. It’s good to teach young children this too and monitor their use, as they’re often the ones to pile the most on their brush.

4. Basin basics: once you’ve wet the brush, get into the habit of turning off the tap for the entire duration of your brushing.

On average, about 3.3 litres of water flows from the bathroom tap each minute. So if you’re brushing for the recommended two minutes each time you clean your teeth, and you’re doing that morning and night, by turning off the tap that’s 13 litres of water a day you haven’t used up unnecessarily, amounting to 4,800 litres a year.

You can take this a step further – once you’re done brushing, dentists recommend that you spit out the excess toothpaste and don’t rinse your mouth. Not only does this save water, but it also means there’s a thin film of fluoridated toothpaste providing your teeth with longer-lasting protection than if you’d rinsed.

5. Wonderful water: still on water saving – use that extra water you’ve saved in the bathroom by drinking it in preference to sugar-sweetened beverages. And if it’s hot outside and the water has heated up in the pipes, don’t keep running the tap until the water gets cold enough to drink.

Instead, fill up a large water bottle and keep it in the fridge handy for instant refreshing swigs your teeth will love you for. When heading out, don’t forgot that reusable water bottle to stay hydrated – that way you won’t need to buy a shop-bought drink or use a disposable plastic bottle. It’s a win for your oral health, a win for your purse and a win for the environment.

6. A family affair: a UK study found 65 per cent of the carbon footprint associated with dentistry comes from patient transport. So book all your family’s appointments back-to-back so you’re only doing one regular trip to the dentist instead of multiple, cutting down on carbon emissions. Even better, why not get public transport to your appointment where possible, cutting down emissions even more?

7. Package pledge: go for oral health products where the packaging is recyclable or made from recyclable products – you can often find icons on the packaging that let you know.

8. Recycle and benefit: some oral care products themselves can be recycled using the TerraCycle oral care program, an initiative led by Colgate to create a free recycling program for oral care products and tricky to recycle packaging.

Products that can be recycled through the program include non-recyclable toothpaste tubes and caps, manual toothbrushes, non-recyclable toothbrush packaging and floss containers.

There are now also recyclable floss products – it should say it on the packaging. Some floss devices with handles are almost fully biodegradable as their handles are derived from corn starch for example, and can be put in the compost along with your veg peelings. Only the floss string itself cannot be composted. Floss every day for good oral health, advises the ADA.

9. White stuff, wrong stuff: cut down on sugar-laden products by checking the labels on your food items at the supermarket. Remember 4g equals one teaspoonful of sugar – many surprising items such as tinned soup, cook-in sauces and many mueslis all have added sugars. The more sugar you eat, the greater your risk of developing tooth decay.

Even better, make more of your meals yourself as that way you can be sure healthy ingredients like wholefoods have been used which will have less sugar content and fewer additives, and they’ll have been made using fewer of the earth’s resources.

10. Drilling down:  your dental practice may be able to explain what strategies they’re executing to increase their sustainability, such as digital x-rays, digital rather than paper records, solar panels to provide electricity, buying energy off the grid which is sourced via renewables rather than fossil fuel burning power stations, lights which automatically switch off when there’s no-one in the room, energy-efficient appliances and investing in reusable products like stainless steel trays. Many Australian dental practices are looking into ways to reduce their carbon footprint and increase their sustainability.