Natural bristle toothbrushes make less plastic waste, they are biodegradable, they can be gentler on teeth and you can avoid putting unnatural plastics in your mouth. They are made from boar hair, plant-based materials or embedded with charcoal. Choosing a toothbrush with natural bristles can help to reduce plastic waste.
What are natural toothbrush bristles made from?
Natural bristles can be made from boar hair, natural plant-based materials and embedded with charcoal. Here are common natural toothbrush bristle materials.
Toothbrush bristles have been traditionally made from boar hair. These toothbrushes can be difficult to find. The boar hair will be is sourced from a special breed usually breed usually used for meat. The hair is harvested and then boiled to straighten and clean it before attaching it to a natural handle. Boar hair is a natural material that is biodegradable but these toothbrushes are very hard to find.
Check out Boar hair bristle toothbrushes here on Amazon.
Natural plant based bristles
Natural plant-based bristles can be made from castor bean oil, tapioca or corn and therefore are biodegradable so will break down naturally over time. Plant-based bristles (100%) can be composted but can take a few months to break down. It is recommended to hot compost them, as the heat will help to speed up the process.
I’ve recently bought a toothbrush which has plant-derived bristles and I can’t tell the difference between them and those of a regular toothbrush. The handle itself is made from recycled plastic, which I will return to a plastic recycling facility when I am done. If you want a fully biodegradable toothbrush I would suggest getting one with a bamboo handle and 100% plant-based bristles.
Toothbrushes can have bristles with activated charcoal embedded in them. Charcoal has been known for its cleaning and whitening properties and has been shown to freshen breath and remove bacteria.
Here are charcoal bristle toothbrushes from Amazon.
Are natural bristle toothbrushes better for the environment?
Natural bristle toothbrushes break down more quickly than nylon bristle toothbrushes. They will clean teeth as well as nylon and won’t be hanging around in the environment for years after.
Choosing a toothbrush with a natural handle like bamboo is a great choice as it will break down over time and can be composted at home. If you have an eco-bin, you can also throw it in to be collected by your local municipality.
Check out my previous article here on bamboo toothbrushes to find out more.
What are regular toothbrush bristles made from?
Toothbrush bristles are usually made of nylon which is a plastic made from crude oil. It is put through a chemical process which turns it into long stretchy fibers. I found out that toothbrushes with nylon bristles were first made in 1938.
Nylon is a synthetic substance which is also used in parachutes, stockings, clothing, rope and tires. Nylon will take years to degrade, it is made from coal and petroleum which are non-renewable resources and toxic gases can be released in its production.
Nylon has been used as toothbrush bristles for many years and is the standard. They clean the teeth well and are recommended by dentists. A good compromise if you still like to use nylon bristles is to buy a bamboo handled toothbrush with nylon bristles.
The bamboo will biodegrade quicker and the nylon bristles only make up a small part of the brush.
What are natural toothbrushes made of?
Natural toothbrushes are made from bamboo. Bamboo is natural, fast growing and is more environmentally sustainable than regular plastic toothbrushes. Bamboo requires few pesticides and fertilizers to grow and can break down in your home compost.
What are bamboo toothbrush bristles made of?
The bristles on bamboo toothbrushes can be made from nylon, boar hair, plant based materials and even charcoal. Make sure you read the packet or website to find out what bristles are on your bamboo toothbrush before buying.
How long do bamboo toothbrushes last?
I have been using bamboo toothbrushes for years now and have found that they will easily last 3-4 months. As long as the bamboo is kept dry and clean between uses it will last very well. The handle itself can start to discolor, usually turning lighter over time but this will not affect its use.
I have been buying bamboo toothbrushes with a natural wax coating as I find the handle stays smoother for longer. Bamboo handled toothbrushes without this wax coating tend to go rough quicker, but still work well.
Are all toothbrushes recyclable?
Most toothbrushes are made of hard plastic so are quite difficult to recycle. There are some dentists that are collecting used toothbrushes to recycle at their clinics, so check before you go in for your next appointment.
Colgate have partnered with TerraCycle and will accept toothpaste tubes and caps, toothbrushes, toothbrush and toothpaste tube outer packaging and floss containers. You just package them up and mail them to be recycled. Click here to find out more if you are in the US.
How often do you need to change a natural bamboo toothbrush?
The American Dental Association recommendations changing your toothbrush anywhere from 3-4 months or when the bristles are matted or frayed. A bamboo toothbrush should therefore still be replaced as often as a regular plastic toothbrush.
How many toothbrushes are thrown away each year?
According to my research around 1 billion toothbrushes are thrown away each year in the US alone. They are made out of a hard plastic so will take hundreds of years to degrade and the plastic particles can still exist in our environment for many years after. It takes around 400 years for the hard plastic of a toothbrush to decompose.
Natural bristle toothbrush benefits | Summary
Natural bristle toothbrushes are a great choice for you and your family as they make less plastic waste, they are biodegradable, they can be gentler on teeth and you can avoid putting unnatural plastics in your mouth. Natural plant based bristles are a great choice and a natural option which is comfortable in your mouth.