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Found this floss resource, Focus on Floss, a desciption of all kinds of floss, as part of my research for a post I did on my other blog, about Everyday Sustainable floss.

The brief take on it.

  • ROUTINE makes it happen everyday, which makes it everyday sustainable.
  • As much as I advocate for healthy materials, whatever solution increases the chances that you’ll floss everyday, is the best everyday sustainable solution for you.
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We all know flossing is good for us.  I have to thank my year in braces for my new everyday ritual: flossing.  It has definitely become a habit.  Which means I use a lot more floss than I ever have in my life.

How to keep flossing at a max, while minimizing waste?

Crest Glide Floss, 109.4 yd

Crest Glide Floss, 109.4 yd

I recommend this economy-size floss I found at Walgreen’s: Crest Glide Floss, Original, 109.4 yards (100 meters).  I don’t know how buying and using one of these compares with buying and using two regular type flosses (that have half the amount of floss), but it seems like at least there’s less packaging and shipping of only one versus two items.

When I’ve used up the floss, I’ll  try to repurpose the cylindrical container in some way.  It looks more promising than the regular containers.

DISCLAIMER: Someone had posted a comment about these earlier, so I followed up and they sent me three samples.  I don’t have anything else to gain from them, and don’t in any way feel obligated to give anything but my most honest evaluation of the product.

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I’ve spent a few days trying out the Bryton Pick, which they call a floss alternative and which looks like a little boomerang. It comes in a little package that doubles as a carrying case; they call it credit card size, which I haven’t tested, but which implies handy for carrying around.  So, here are a few thoughts:

  • What I first noticed and liked was that the “floss”–which is made of thin stainless steel, according the company info–is really thin.  I had NO problem sliding it between my teeth, like I do with regular floss.  Nice.
  • There is the fear that I’m going to slice my gums because the thing looks sharp, but actually no problem there.
  • What I don’t like is that I couldn’t quite navigate the flosser around the tooth like I can when I’m using regular floss.  Maybe I’ll get the hang of angling it.
  • The product literature features that you can use it with one hand, and this is quite nice.  Really is a one-handed flosser.
  • I have a question about how hygienic it is if you stick it back in the holder; I guess I’ll pay attention and make sure to clean and dry with extra special care once in a while.
  • Not sure how to evaluate it in terms of waste-stream; the product is small and packaging minimal, too, but is it less waste than using regular floss?  Can I throw it in plastic recycle?
  • The flyer they included in the package showed a photo of use with braces.  I can’t comment on this with experience, since I no longer wear braces, but I imagine it might be useful in a pinch.  Anyone given it a try?

So, my conclusions:

  • I don’t think I’ll replace my regular floss for daily usage because of the nooks & crannies that I think floss address better.
  • However, I’ll carry this around in my wallet.  A lot less work when I’m out at a restaurant or a meeting, than trying to floss.  Especially if I don’t think I can wash my hands adequately to use the floss.
  • And great to have around for a quick floss when I don’t have enough time for my daily brush/floss routine (which usually happens pre-bedtime.)

You can purchase here or get three free but pay $4.95 shipping/handling.

I was traveling in Japan last month and ran out of floss.  “No problem,” I thought.  “I’m sure I can find some at an omnipresent convenient store.”  But that was not the case!

The only floss I could find was imported floss from the US for about $6.50, or the individually-packaged dental flossers.  You know, those little plastic things with a little bit of floss across it that are disposable.

I was really resistant to buying these because:

  1. What a waste of extra materials. Sure, less floss was used each time, but the packaging and the plastic that would be wasted with each use was not something I wanted to sign up for.
  2. I wasn’t sure how easy it would be to use. Would the floss slide between my tightly-aligned teeth?

In the end, I bought them because I had no other choice.  How did it go?

  • As feared, it was tough going between my tightly-aligned teeth, but I managed to get them through my teeth.  And since I floss regularly, I didn’t have any bleeding or discomfort.
  • It was a little difficult getting at the back teeth at first, but I got the hang of it.
  • One advantage was getting some leverage in flossing between the back teeth.
  • In the end, better to floss with a sub-optimal tool, than not at all.

Of course, with braces, this option would NOT WORK AT ALL. So this is about the POST braces life.  Which, remember, is just as important for beautiful teeth and health.

Fortunately, I’m back in the US and with my regular rolls of floss. That said, I know that some people love these flossers, so some thoughts on the options, with an eye to sustainability from a materials perspective.

  • Decrease waste by going with the multipacks; no individual wrapping. Like these from Plackers and GUM.
  • Minimize waste by using a flosser with a disposable head; you keep the handle.  Like the Reach Access Flosser.
  • Go one step further to minimizing plastic waste by getting a floss holder, where you put your own floss in the holder.  This would be a great option for people who like using these flossers, but want to cut down on plastic waste and cost, or like me, would rather use my own floss which fits better between my teeth.  Here’s one from Flossaid.

The Smile! book had a section on oral care products.

Here’s what it said about mouthwash:

Some mouthwashs contain phenols-types of alcohol (including Listerine) which are considered toxic because they are susceptible to being absorbed by lungs and skin, resulting in caustic burns, as well as kidney and liver damage and hyperactivity.

So, while you wear braces, it’s recommended you use a flouride rinse.  PLEASE consider one without alcohol, for your health!!!!

I used Tom’s of Maine’s Lemon-Lime Flouride Rinse.

One of the things I look forward to when I get my braces off is to see how the Sonicare brush I have feels on my naked teeth. And if in fact brushing with it helps with stain removal/teeth whitening, as they claim.

I googled “sonicare effectiveness” and found an abstract for a 1997 Harvard study that says:

“These results clearly demonstrate that the Sonicare sonic toothbrush is superior to a manual toothbrush in improving periodontal health in adolescent orthodontic patients with existing gingivitis.”

And Phillips (the manufacturer) has a page with clinical study info, including this on how Sonicare does on stains.

I guess I’ll find out soon.

Recently, I’ve noticed that some food gets stuck between my arch wire and teeth, and I can’t get it out easily.

The little brush thingie, aka the little Xmas tree, to the rescue!

I had to do some furious googling to figure out what this thing is called, officially. Looks like proxy brush or interdental brush.

See photo below for an action shot (from this website.)

proxy brush

I’ve only used the ones that came in my original care package from my doctor. And I realize that I left it out of my photo of my travel kit, but I do have one in there, just in case.

Cassandra wrote a comment that included her experience using a new waterpick.  She says it’s not a substitute for flossing (yes, she knows this), but she likes it and it feels great.

Speaking of gadgets, I’ve loved the Sonicare I got for free from a product review company (for women to review products: www.shespeaks.com.) 

I had never considered buying an electric toothbrush; I’m very low maintenance and tend not to buy gadgets.  However, now that I’m using it, I have been pleasantly surprised by how much I like it.  Even though it took some getting used to because it vibrates, and it’s set to go for 2 minutes, so sometimes I drool a bit.  But my teeth feel really clean.  Like after-the-dentist’s-cleaning clean.  And you can use it with braces.  However, I can’t wait to use it after I get the braces off, because it’s supposed to help whiten teeth.

The model I have is the Sonicare Essence 5300.  I have a coupon for a $10 rebate on a future Sonicare toothbrush purchase, or if you already have one, a free brush head replacement (when you buy a multipack).  Email me if you’d like me to send that to you.

I haven’t pushed my sustainability muscle into the toothbrush arena yet. I just make sure that I get some “reuse” out of my old toothbrushes, by using them to scrub a tough nook & cranny when I’m cleaning the kitchen or bathroom. It helps me feel less guilty about just throwing out all that plastic.

Thank goodness Idealbite has researched this, and posted info on more sustainable toothbrush alternatives:

You can avoid both by choosing a recycled or replaceable-head toothbrush instead of a conventional tooth-scrubber, and brush up on the best options to promote good dental and eco-hygiene.

According to Idealbite, benefits are: reducing trash (in the US, 50 mil lb of toothbrushes end up in landfills each year); saving money with replaceable-head versions; and the eco-brushes work as well as the ones from your dentist.

Products they recommend:

  • Preserve Toothbrush – made from recycled yogurt cups and comes with a postage-paid envelope for recycling; three bristle options. Available at Whole Foods ($4), Amazon.
  • Radius Source Toothbrush – has a cool corn and wood fiber handle with replaceable heads ($8). Available at Whole Foods, Amazon.
  • Fuchs Ekotec Toothbrush – simple replaceable-head brush that includes three spare heads ($4).

Now that I have some good leads, I think I’ll go check if my local green/sustainable store has one of these.

I’ve been investigating Healthy Options for oral care products, and came across this helpful article from Body + Soul magazine, that talks about the same.

Specifically, it covers: