The 8 Best Bamboo Toothbrushes
This wiki has been updated 22 times since it was first published in February of 2017. If you care about both oral hygiene and environmental stewardship, you can now choose a toothbrush made from one of the most eco-friendly and sustainable materials on the planet: bamboo. It's an easy and practical way to reduce your consumption of plastics. We selected options that feel good in the hand and are soft on the gums, and we even found a few that look great on the countertop, too. When users buy our independently chosen editorial recommendations, we may earn commissions to help fund the Wiki.
May 18, 2019:
Some products in this category are made entirely of bamboo--both the handle and bristles. Others feature nylon or vegetable oil-based bristles. However, there does not seem to be a correlation between type of bristles and how well they stay in the brush, and loose or falling-out bristles is the main complaint we see from users. In this update, we removed some items due to concern about price and/or availability, and added the Kimz 8-pack--a cost-effective newcomer to the scene. Indeed, all of our top three selections offer exceptional value for the cost, which was an important criterion for this update.
A Brief History Of The Toothbrush
Celluloid replaced bone by the early 20th century, and nylon fibers took the place of animal hair, making them much easier to mass produce.
Oral hygiene has been important to mankind for thousands of years, ever since the first caveman got some woolly mammoth stuck in his teeth and later discovered that none of his friends had been brave enough to tell him.
Dental care didn't start with the toothbrush, however. Chew sticks, twigs, feathers, and animal bones were all used to try to dislodge stuck food particles, with chew sticks being the most common. The earliest known stick dates back to 3500 B.C.E. in Mesopotamia.
The toothbrush first hit the scene in China in the 7th century C.E. Members of the Tang Dynasty made a brush from bamboo or bone, which they then attached hog bristles to. As European travelers ventured to and from China, they began to notice the use of this brush, which they then took back home with them.
While the Europeans quickly took to this new method of oral hygiene, they found the hog bristles to be too stiff for their liking. As a result, they swapped the bristles out for horsehair, which was much softer. Still, many of them cleaned their teeth with rags that had soot and salt on them.
The first mass-produced brush came along in 1780, created by an Englishman named William Addis. While being imprisoned for starting a riot, he decided to do something useful with his time and improve upon the salted-soot rag method. He fashioned a crude model out of bone, bristles, and glue.
Upon his release, Addis started a business manufacturing these new toothbrushes, becoming wealthy in the process. His company stayed in the family for over 200 years.
The U.S. lagged behind its European counterparts for awhile, as the first American patent wasn't issued until 1857. Mass production wouldn't come along until after the Civil War, using brushes made of animal bone and boar-hair bristles.
Celluloid replaced bone by the early 20th century, and nylon fibers took the place of animal hair, making them much easier to mass produce. Still, brushing teeth didn't become an everyday activity until after WWII.
The first electric model debuted in Switzerland in 1954, and the "Reach" toothbrush came along in 1977. This one had an angled head, closely-grouped bristles, and fibers of different length for reaching different teeth.
Now, there are dozens of different toothbrush types available (and you can still buy pig hair ones). Keeping your teeth clean has never been easier, and brushing is now considered a basic part of daily hygiene.
More importantly, though, people have long since stopped scrubbing their teeth with soot and salt.
Benefits Of A Bamboo Toothbrush
We live in a time where every single purchase has to say something about who you are as a person, and what your values and ideals happen to be.
With that in mind...what does your toothbrush say about you?
It requires no pesticides or chemicals to grow, so you don't have to worry about second-hand contamination.
If you own a bamboo toothbrush, the primary thing it says is that you're environmentally-conscious. When you get rid of a plastic toothbrush (which you should do every three months), chances are it'll just end up in a landfill somewhere. It is possible to recycle them, but it takes a little more work, and why give yourself another chore?
A brush with a bamboo handle, on the other hand, is biodegradable. The bristles are usually easily recyclable, and when you're done, you can throw the handle away without any guilt — or even toss it in your composting bin.
Don't worry about starving pandas, either. Most of these toothbrushes use a strain known as Moso bamboo, which isn't part of the bears' diet. It grows extremely quickly, as well, ensuring that it can be harvested with minimal environmental impact. It requires no pesticides or chemicals to grow, so you don't have to worry about second-hand contamination.
Bamboo is naturally antimicrobial to boot, so you won't have to worry about germs creeping up your handle onto your bristles.
Beyond that, bamboo toothbrushes are stylish and unique, setting you apart from the legions of bland, plastic models out there. It's a great way to make a fashion statement while also helping save the environment.
Making Your Dental Care More Eco-Friendly
If you're taking the time to seek out bamboo toothbrushes, then there's a good chance you're trying to do everything you can to make sure your teeth leave the smallest carbon footprint — er, bite mark — possible. Here are some other ways to do just that, without sacrificing effectiveness.
If you look hard enough, you should be able to find an eco-friendly alternative to any product you use.
One of the biggest issues in holistic dentistry is the use of fluoride. While it's undoubtedly effective for preventing tooth decay, many people point to the fact that it's toxic in high doses and has an unknown environmental impact as reasons why you should avoid it.
Our opinion? The health risks are overblown (there are many things that become toxic if taken in excessive doses, after all), and there's little evidence to support the belief that it's damaging to the environment. If you'd rather be safe than sorry, though, there are a variety of organic toothpastes out there that can get the job done without exposing you to any potentially dodgy ingredients.
You can also likely find a mouthwash that doesn't have any chemicals, preservatives, sweeteners, and the like — and one that's cruelty-free (yes, some companies test mouthwash on animals). Look for one that uses essential oils or natural cleansers like peppermint or baking soda.
If you look hard enough, you should be able to find an eco-friendly alternative to any product you use. Just look for natural ingredients and recyclable packaging, and you'll be well on your way to saving the planet while brightening your smile.
Who knew that having green teeth could be so attractive?