Let’s Talk About Dental Products – Plastic Free Products
I am more than a little obsessed with teeth. Like many, a sparkly set of gnashers will always get my attention (50 Cent, Kevin Hart, Stacy Solomon here’s looking at you) and I visit the dentist and hygienist (by choice not necessity) more often than the nail salon. I am a SUCKER for any new toothpaste or mouthwash, so felt like a child at Christmas when trying the Midz Plastic Free dental range.
Firstly I tried the toothpaste. This comes in a jar with a little wooden spatula which is used to apply the toothpaste to the brush. The consistency of the pearly white paste seemed similar to most others. I liked the packaging and found it simple enough to apply, and the jar is a decent size for re-use after. I’ll be honest, my personal preference is an overpowering flavour that makes your mouth ‘pop’ for a good while after brushing, partly because the longer the aftertaste lasts, the longer I’ll keep away from chocolate, my biggest downfall! I would not necessarily choose a mild taste as I love that minty kick so much. My initial thought upon reading the ‘gently cleans and whitens’ label and smelling the product was that this may be a more subtle taste than I usually went for.
Any initial scepticism was quickly proved wrong, this was a fresh and clean taste with a formula that foamed up well (more on foam later) throughout the 2 minute brushing time, even after rinsing. It felt gentler on my gums than my previous brand and my mouth felt just as clean as it usually would. This product is something I would highly recommend, no problems. I will also add, at an overnight stay with a friend a few weeks after starting to use this product, I ended up using her high street brand of toothpaste, which was one of my previous old favourites. I actually disliked the taste this time round as it felt artificial, gritty and and and my mouth felt dryer than when I used the natural toothpaste.
Packaging is worthy of a mention here. The jar it came in was an added Brucie bonus as I always find the idea of recycling toothpaste tubes a little confusing; will the toothpaste residue inside the tube contaminate the rest of the recycling bin? Is it cap only? and so on. Yet throwing them with non-recyclable rubbish so regularly, despite knowing they would inevitably end up as landfill did not sit well either. For the record, tubes apparently can be recycled, however it is a long process involving shredding the tubes, blasting with water and/or a biocide solution to remove residue, then converting them into pellets for use in new plastic products. This was reassuring to hear, however the idea of a glass jar I was able to simply rinse and reuse when empty was more appealing to me. I am no expert (and I won’t pretend to be!) but, for me, reusing a glass jar eg for my desk stationary bits and bobs feels like it will leave less of an impact on the earth than the whole toothpaste tube recycling process. Much less of a carbon footprint too. Plus the jar looked so pretty and cute and neat on my bathroom shelf compared to mucky tubes…yep I’m shallow like that I’m afraid!
Next, the charcoal tooth powder. Well this was an experience and a half let me tell you. I am not a person known for my delicate touch and elegance, in fact I am probably one of the most heavy handed, clumsiest people out there. (An example of this is the time I ended up in A and E getting my hand stitched back together after simply slicing an avocado, but that’s a story for another time). This charcoal powder served as an unexpected reminder of my awkwardness. Do bear with me though, there is a reason I am sharing all the details. Here goes.
The packaging was another neat and pretty little jar that could be re-used after. So far, so good. Already a win. Unfortunately it misled me into thinking this jar would be a pleasant and uneventful part of my dental routine. What it lacked was the flashing sirens and bright yellow warning triangles on the label that would warn someone like me that the moment I opened the lid I had to proceed with caution.
I scooped out a small amount of the fine black powder and tapped it onto my dry toothbrush. First mistake, so do please take note. This product is better put on dampened bristles as the powder clings to them instead of puffing into a little black dust cloud around the toothbrush head and handle. It probably links neatly with the ‘do you dampen your toothbrush before or after applying toothpaste?’ discussion; needless to say before this experience I was a ‘dampen after’ kinda gal, however I have since converted quite quickly into a ‘dampen before’. Anyway, I digress. Once the charcoal finally found its’ way to my toothbrush head, I then raised it ready to brush the pearly whites.
It was then I made my second mistake. I happened to gently breathe out and blew the charcoal everywhere. Sink, taps, windowsill, hand and all over the white vest I was wearing. For such a little scoop it sure went a very very long way. I am sure this is a bonus worth noting for the product and actually a positive, however, at the time I was cursing myself.
Eventually I got the toothbrush into my mouth and began to brush, observing the tinge in the mirror that looked like I had eaten 10 old school Black Jack sweets. As per instructions I gently brushed as if I were using toothpaste and then I rinsed and spat. It was fascinating to watch and the results were immediately noticeable. This was compensation for the state I had got myself and my bathroom into. I literally looked like I had emptied a used mini bbq over my chest and sink just for fun. I repeat, a little goes a very long way! It all cleaned up well enough, no harm was done.
The next time I used the charcoal I was much more cautious…dampened toothbrush, steady hand, mindful of blowing it everywhere, and made sure I used it before I got dressed! There is a knack to using it and once familiar with it, each time becomes easier. These were lessons I learned the hard way so you don’t have to, so please take note!
The product itself, although quite a messy experience first time I used it, was one I got familiar with very quickly and enjoyed seeing the visible results of. Yes, my teeth did feel whiter and brighter and this became apparent in photos after just a week. I did get compliments on them after using the powder. These compliments are reassuring because if you do happen to spill the powder on your clothes (like I did that first time), hopefully your teeth will be so blinding nobody will notice any marks anyway.
In conclusion I would absolutely recommend this product and have grown to love it for the results it brings. Just be mindful of the mistakes I made when I first used it! As most people say: ’the first time is usually quite messy’ …errr, yes guys, I am still talking about toothpowder, nudge nudge.
I loved this toothbrush at first sight. It’s a sleek, neat, simple looking brush consisting of a 100% biodegradable bamboo handle with black charcoal infused bristles. The handle is rounded and extremely comfortable to hold and manoeuvre with a coloured painted section at the base. This painted section comes in a variety of colours so members of the same household can identify their brushes. More importantly, the purpose of this painted section is to protect the bamboo handle part of the toothbrush from mould when it is being stored upright in a toothpaste holder and the excess water inevitably trickles from the bristles down to the base. The paint used is anti-fungicidal so repels any nasties forming and multiplying on the base of the handle. Win win!
The bristles were firm, yet flexible enough to feel gentle on my tooth enamel, unlike some others previously tried which felt unyielding and actually harsh on my gums. Each tuft had a few shorter bristles a factor I always find more comfortable on the gaps between my teeth (compared to some brushes where all bristles have a uniform height). Although not everyone’s cup of tea, brushing my tongue with my toothbrush is part of my dental routine too and it was another good sign that it also did not feel too raw or sensitive after.
It rinsed well and the sleekness of the handle meant that there were very few grooves for toothpaste residue and slobber (no point beating around the bush) to hide in to make it murky like so many plastic brushes end up.
A toothbrush I would recommend and is now a firm favourite; and tooth obsessed fanatic that I am, I’ve tried a fair few!
As with toothpastes I have tried a fair few mouthwashes over the years, however, unlike my previous typical toothpastes I usually gravitate towards the gentler tastes and alcohol free versions of mouthwash. This is as I find the stronger, traditional ones strip my mouth of all moisture leaving it drier than a flip flop in the desert…no point sugar coating it, I’m sure I am not alone in this! My previous brands have all always been in those chunky, ugly plastic bottles with garish labels and oversized lids that just felt excessive and wasteful.
I liked the packaging (surprise surprise) it was a sturdy clear glass 500ml bottle with an aluminium screw top and understated, simple label that can easily be peeled off to allow the bottle to be repurposed after use as a vase (i kid you not, this looked lovely with a sprig of rosemary on my windowsill) or to refill with your own concoctions. Or, just simply recycled, as it is completely plastic free and fully recyclable.
The exciting blend of mint essential oils, sage, aloe vera and sea buckthorn in this natural mouthwash was strong enough to feel that all important mouth freshness, but mild enough to not feel like I had just had a procedure in the dentist chair. The combination of herbs works well in this clear liquid and the instructions are the same as any other mouthwash; rinse, gargle and spit. It is suitable for sensitive teeth and gums and needless to say is alcohol free. Some of you may be happy to hear that if you were intending on ingesting some, not that I am recommending you should of course, it is also a vegan product and no animals were harmed in the testing or making of it. Always a good thing! I will also say that I found the recommendations of amounts to use quite generous and found using slightly less than the recommended 20ml just as effective.
This mouthwash is not a life changing experience, it isn’t a luminous pink substance that deposits the dregs of your most recent meal into the sink when you rinse and spit (No? Just me?) It doesn’t promise you teeth that glow in the dark, and to be honest why should it, as according to most dentist it’s the brushing and flossing that truly makes a difference! However, it does offer you a plastic and guilt free option that leaves you feeling pleasantly minty fresh for hours.
Just in case it wasn’t clear yet, I am a sucker for packaging, the cuter and more re-usable the better. So the first thing that struck me about the toothpaste tablets was the nifty little silver box they came in. Pocket sized with a neat sliding lid and already been earmarked by my Dad for his credit cards, my daughter for her hair grips (guaranteed we will still find the little buggers everywhere and anywhere though, nobody is fooled) and myself for the multiple USB sticks I need for teaching! Anyway, usefulness of packaging aside, the toothpaste tablets themselves are suitable for vegans (which I’m not) due to the ingredients and thrifty consumers (which I am) due to the refill and reuse options. There are 62 tablets which is approximately a 1 month supply. Amongst the ingredients are natural oils including Metha Arvensis Leaf Oil and Mentha Piperita Oil which enhance the flavour. These do contain fluoride and are unsuitable for children.
To use, a tablet is chewed until it turns creamy. Teeth are then brushed in the typical way, followed by a rinse and a spit as usual. Initially I found myself likening it to a small breath mint sweet and had to concentrate on not crunching and swallowing, but as with a couple of these products it was just a case of retraining my brain to not go into autopilot. The creamy substance was pleasant and took I’d say around 15-20 seconds to fully disperse after crunching the tablet into a crumbly paste which eventually got smoother. I found myself naturally producing just the right amount of saliva to brush my teeth comfortably. The substance had a mild and minty flavour. The subtle aftertaste was not overpowering, and even without the fizz and fireworks I am used to from previous toothpastes, my mouth felt clean and fresh.
These would be wonderful for travelling as take up less space and would not be prone to exploding or leaking over the rest of your toiletries. And while we are on the subject of toiletries let’s all just take a moment to appreciate that: They. Are. Not. Liquid. I personally have always struggled with the stingy airline liquid allowance, aghast at friends swinging an airy little resealable bag containing just a lipgloss and a mini dry shampoo and a teeny deodorant and AIR when we go to Ibiza (while I’m there poking and cramming every travel size product imaginable and praying the bag doesn’t pop open until we are past security). For that reason alone, these toothpaste tablets are a godsend, and no Hun, I am not going to look too closely at whether they fall into the toiletries category, the label specifically says tablets so that is what I am going with. I said I’d keep it real guys! Disclaimer: this is a personal review and not advice for anyone reading to have a free for all against customs advice. Just throwing it out there.
The Yucky Stuff:
One of the reasons many of these products may have felt gentler on my gums is the total lack of the harmful ingredients that are found in everyday brands. In particular, but not limited to, toothpaste. Now I am not here to scare or judge and am in no position to, having used these brands myself for years. However a little knowledge of what is actually in our products is no bad thing. It came as a shock to discover that most toothpaste brands contain toxic chemicals with very strong links to a number of health problems including the dreaded C word, weakened heart function, bone deformation and a variety of digestive problems.
Although not yet a fully reformed consumer, I am becoming a little uneasy with the thought of brushing my teeth with a common chemical (hello Triclosan) that was banned from being used in soap in 2016. Banned…from SOAP? Hello? I’m starting to feel if the powers that be think it’s too darn strong for washing my hands then I don’t particularly want it in my mouth!
Another nasty is Carrageenan, a thickening agent derived from seaweed which has been known to potentially cause intestinal inflammation and has possible links to colon tumours.
Now is an important time to note that the satisfying foam I mentioned enjoying earlier during brushing was a combination of the natural toothpaste ingredients and my brushing technique (which I’d imagine is not dissimilar to most others’) and thankfully not from Sodium Lauryl Sulfate. Much as I love a good frothy foam when I am brushing, the ‘clean feeling’ I get from it is partly in my mind (no evidence to support foamier equals cleaner, it really is an advertising tactic we have been conditioned to believe over the years) and partly from Sodium Lauryl Sulfate, a surfactant chemical so strong it is used in industrial cleaners! It can cause cold sores, ulcers, stomach problems and even certain cancers.
So yes, part of this journey is definitely retraining my brain to not always associate a fizz and a foam with clean. Gentle can be just as effective as well as safer. There are others, but I will end with a brief mention of Sodium fluoride, a synthetic ingredient with strong evidence to indicate an adverse impact on bones, teeth and neurological development but found in many, many everyday brands of toothpastes. It’s not my intention to scaremonger but I will say the more I have delved into this rabbit hole of information (and it’s not difficult information to find) the more I have found overwhelming evidence to support going down a more natural route of dental hygiene. If I am going to be doing something at least twice a day and unwittingly ingesting at least a few mouthfuls of it in my lifetime, then I may as well make it do as little damage to my body and the environment as possible, making sure the product I am using does not need a government warning advice on the packaging!