Enviro-friendly toothbrushes

Photo: istockphoto.com/Diane Diederich
Are all toothbrushes created equal? It certainly doesn't look that way when you visit your local grocery store or pharmacy. The shelves are lined with choices -- soft bristles, sonic power, whitening, electrical spin brushes. But in addition to this buffet there are also toothbrushes out there that are both healthy for you and can be far better for the environment then their traditionally plastic counterparts. Replace Dentists strongly recommend we replace our toothbrushes at least four times a year, which can cause some rather large piles in the landfills. One way to cut back on about 4/5 of that plastic garbage is to buy toothbrushes with replaceable heads. There are a number of brands that offer this option. Pennsylvania-based Radius takes this commitment to the environment a step further. Its Source Toothbrush uses replaceable heads and features a handle made from a blend of wood and a plastic derived entirely from Nebraska maize. Radius toothbrushes are sold at many leading retailers including Whole Foods. Recycle Taking the importance of recycling seriously is Recycline's Preserve Toothbrush. The brush is made with recycled plastics -- it was once a yogurt cup -- and when you are done with it you can simply mail it back to the Massachusetts-based company, at its expense, to be repurposed again. The discarded toothbrushes are often made into plastic outdoor furniture. Rediscover An all-natural choice is to adopt a traditional way of cleaning teeth. The Natural Toothbrush in England sells a brush made from the roots of the Araak (a.k.a. Salvadora Persica) tree, which is found in many areas of the Middle East -- basically this is a piece of wood. But a very special piece of wood says users. Studies show that the roots of the araak tree are filled with numerous minerals and nutrients that improve oral health. This toothbrush alternative, or miswak as it is traditionally known, is easy to use, lasts four to six weeks, can be carried in your pocket anywhere you go, and is used without toothpaste, which can be made with a lengthy list of chemicals. For each use you simply cut off the end of the stick, use your teeth to fray the new end into the form of a brush, clean teeth and store in a tight container. Redefine Speaking of brushing without toothpaste, the latest -- and perhaps most unusual -- in toothpaste technology is the Proton Toothbrush from Japan. Instead of toothpaste the Proton uses the electrical reaction between your saliva, water, and the metal inserts of copper and magnesium on the head of the brush to clean teeth, maintain healthy gums and kill bacteria. Shannon Wilmot is a freelance writer based in Toronto.