Why use a bamboo toothbrush?

Is a bamboo toothbrush sustainable? Expert interview

In addition to the usual plastic toothbrushes, one increasingly sees toothbrushes made from the renewable material bamboo in stores. However, many ask themselves how sustainable bamboo really is and whether a bamboo toothbrush might even offer advantages over a conventional plastic toothbrush. I spoke to Fabian Fallenbüchel about Lebenskraftpur. He not only knows his way around this area very well, but also pursues the mission with Lebenskraftpur to educate people about the topics of health prevention, nutrition and life energy. Let's start right away with the interview and dive into the topic of bamboo toothbrushes & dental health.

Photo by chuttersnap on Unsplash

Bamboo is a wonderful plant, no question about it. But wouldn't it be possible to make toothbrushes from our local wood in order to save the long transport route? Why is bamboo, of all things, being used?

Fabian Fallenbüchel: Basically, it is desirable to use local materials and raw materials correctly and in a more sustainable manner. But bamboo in particular offers the great advantage that it is a very sustainable raw material and has other extremely positive properties.

Bamboo is the fastest growing plant on earth. At the same time it is very firm and a 100% natural raw material. As a result, bamboo is completely biodegradable and plastic-free. The last point in particular plays an important role today. Think of the mountains of plastic floating on the sea or the countless garbage dumps. If you consider that the general recommendation is to replace a toothbrush with a new one every 2-3 months, this creates a lot of plastic waste. And that without the associated plastic packaging. But not if you have a bamboo toothbrush in use. This can even be converted after use. As a DIY (“do it yourself”) or upcycling idea, you could label the stem and use it in the vegetable patch to mark plants. The bristles can be pulled out beforehand with a pair of pliers.

In addition, bamboo produces an extraordinary amount of oxygen during the growth phase. Even more than other trees. Native plants cannot keep up - so the use of this plant is sustainable and also puts the transport route into perspective. From my point of view, bamboo offers such convincing advantages from many points of view that it would be almost negligent not to use it as a raw material.

In addition to the sustainability aspect, are there any other advantages (e.g. for health) why you should switch to a bamboo toothbrush?

Fabian Fallenbüchel: There definitely is! If we look at conventional toothbrushes, they are usually made of plastic. These often have dubious, if not harmful ingredients such as BPA (bisphenol A). Various studies have ascribed a hormone-like effect to BPA. In addition, a study in the Journal of the American Medical Association indicates that BPA can promote diabetes, liver problems and cardiovascular disease. Plasticizers (phthalates) can also be found in ordinary toothbrushes, which are classified as harmful to reproduction and immunity. These can evaporate, wash out or rub off when you brush your teeth. Phthalates and their breakdown products can be found in the blood and urine of almost everyone.

Especially in the unprotected oral cavity, where there is direct contact with the mucous membranes, it is advisable not to come into contact with such substances. Otherwise, these small plastic particles may end up in the circulation.

In addition, plastic toothbrushes cause significant amounts of waste that is difficult to recycle. As I have already described, this is certainly not in the interests of sustainability.

Our favorite products for better dental health: toothbrushes, tooth crystals, tooth powder and more

In complete contrast, bamboo toothbrushes are free from ingredients such as BPA, pesticides or other questionable and toxic substances. Bamboo is naturally antibacterial, which means that neither pesticides nor fertilizers are required during cultivation. The raw material is accordingly clean and pure. No toxins can get into the body on contact with the wood.

In addition, unlike other woods, bamboo does not draw water. As a result, it does not offer any point of attack for mold and bacteria and remains permanently hygienic in daily use.

There are different degrees of hardness for toothbrush bristles. Should you just buy by feel or should you prefer certain bristles?

Fabian Fallenbüchel: The bristles of the toothbrush should be designed in such a way that they clean the interdental spaces well and at the same time do not injure the gums. So rather soft and soft bristles would be recommended. With harder bristles it can happen that the gums become too irritated. Basically, it has to be decided individually which degree of hardness makes sense for the bristles and achieves the best cleaning result, as well as gently massaging the gums and stimulating their blood circulation.

Electric toothbrushes are exactly the opposite of a bamboo toothbrush. Isn't a bamboo toothbrush a step backwards and a disadvantage for dental health?

Fabian Fallenbüchel: Strictly speaking, it doesn't matter because the handling is very individual here too. An electric toothbrush can be an alternative for those who don’t want to clean their teeth, although cleaning mistakes cannot be excluded here either. If the pressure is too high, it damages the gums just as it would with a conventional manual toothbrush. Another factor is the abrasiveness (grinding effect) of the toothpaste (or the dentifrice), which has an influence on the hard tooth substance. If you choose a toothpaste that has a high degree of abrasiveness and additionally hard bristles on the toothbrush, this can cause irritation in the mouth in the long term.

From my point of view, the interplay of toothbrush, dentifrice, cleaning behavior, eating behavior (avoid sugar!) Is decisive and not the separate consideration of one of these elements.

If there were ideal dental care, what would it look like? Which components shouldn't you do without?

Fabian Fallenbüchel: The choice of toothbrush plays an important role in ideal, holistic dental care - in this case, soft toothbrush heads would be preferred.

When it comes to dentifrices, it should be noted that ordinary toothpaste contains innumerable harmful chemicals that are not necessary to keep teeth healthy and often actively damage them. On the one hand, it usually contains substances that are far too abrasive, i.e. damage the tooth enamel. The surfactants contained, especially sodium lauryl sulfate, irritate the mucous membrane and the gums. They can trigger allergies, as can the highly allergenic parabens. They often also contain microplastics, toxic sugar substitutes and aluminum salts.

We like to use the refreshing morning sun tooth powder and the delicious children's tooth powder in combination with a bamboo toothbrush.

And of course, ordinary toothpaste also contains sodium fluoride - a readily soluble fluorine salt that does not occur in nature. In nature, i.e. also in our food, there is calcium fluoride, which is not soluble and therefore has completely different properties. So there are free fluoride ions in toothpaste, which are very aggressive. They actively damage the tooth enamel by depositing themselves in it and making it brittle, they also prevent the useful mineralization of the teeth with other elements, such as silicon or calcium. By the way, fluoride is also absorbed through the oral mucosa and is a neurotoxin.

In addition, however, forced fluorination is simply unnecessary, as we ingest enough fluorine salts with food and water. Incomprehensibly, Stiftung Warentest unsettles consumers by evaluating dental care products without fluorine as inadequate. This is not scientifically tenable! Why should you brush your teeth with something that is toxic if swallowed? Even if most of the toothpaste is spit out, it cannot be prevented that small amounts are swallowed. In addition, many toxic substances are also absorbed through the oral mucosa and are thus distributed throughout the body.

A tooth powder made from natural ingredients, such as healing chalk, baking soda, xylitol, on the other hand, is so natural that it can even be eaten without any problems. We at Lebenskraftpur have various tooth powders in our range that offer exactly this purity and naturalness. Dental floss can also be used for very narrow teeth or, alternatively, an interdental brush to clean the spaces between the teeth. But please handle it carefully so as not to provoke any gum injuries.

We have been relying on tooth crystals for a long time, they are also available in several flavors - lemon is so delicious! Tooth crystals with lemon or even more choice.

Tooth crystals made of xylitol are also recommended. Xylitol or xylitol is a sugar substitute that is anti-caries (anti-cariogenic). Since xylitol only becomes sufficiently effective in the oral cavity after approx. 8 minutes, tooth crystals that can be sucked are the agent of choice.

Why do dentists actually not recommend xylitol products? Xylitol and its anti-cariogenic effects have been known for a long time.

Fabian Fallenbüchel: A brief explanation for the readers: As already mentioned, xylitol is a sugar substitute that not only gives tooth powder a pleasant taste, but also prevents tooth decay, inhibits tooth decay and creates an alkaline environment in the oral cavity. It alkalizes the saliva, which is the basic condition for the tooth enamel to regenerate and remineralize. Since tooth enamel is acid-soluble, it can only be built up in a basic environment. In addition, basic saliva prevents tooth enamel from breaking down in the first place. Tooth decay occurs because the enamel is attacked by acids that harmful bacteria produce. Xylitol inhibits these bacteria so that tooth decay cannot develop in the first place.

So far, xylitol has been mainly known to holistic dentists and is also recommended by them. It would be desirable for the patients that the awareness of xylitol and thus also its use increases.

What mistakes do many people make when brushing their teeth without even knowing it?

Fabian Fallenbüchel: Some people who want to be particularly thorough and conscientious in their dental care exert too much pressure when brushing. This irritates the gums and, in the worst case, can retract. Here less is more. With a soft bristle you are on the safe side here. A (holistic) dentist can help with the correct brushing technique. In a nutshell, you can say that the toothbrush should be placed at a 45 degree angle towards the gum line and then the teeth should be brushed with small shaking movements.

It should also be ensured that acidic foods (e.g. citrus fruits) are not cleaned immediately after a meal. If all these points are taken into account, nothing stands in the way of optimal dental health.

Dear Fabian, thank you very much for your tips and information for better dental health! Our entire family has been using the tooth crystals as well as the bamboo toothbrushes and the various tooth powders for a very long time - we are happy to recommend them because they simply work and our dentist is satisfied. I am happy to link your products that ensure holistic oral and dental care.

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Article by Lisa Albrecht published on May 10, 2020.