written by Samantha Tillapaugh from The Debtist
Charcoal sure is getting quite the attention these days. It seems that this granulated, activated, ashy celebrity has stolen the spotlight. Instagram is ablaze with picture-worthy activated charcoal-containing foods, such as black scoops of ice-cream atop waffle cones, and seeded black hamburger buns on either side of a beef patty. This ‘coconut ash’ also has been praised to bind toxic drugs and chemicals in the body due to its negative charge, thus pulling out toxins before the stomach can digest them. (Someone has yet to start an all-charcoal diet.)
For similar reasons, bits of charcoal are also being integrated into beauty products in the effort to bind dirt and oils. I’ve seen humans who look like panda bears, mid-exfoliation. Pretty cute. And don’t think I didn’t consider for a moment the use of charcoal sticks in lieu of a water filtration system. In a crazed effort to eliminate plastic use completely while not being open to drinking unfiltered water, I myself fell down a charcoal-obsessed rabbit hole internet search. Drop a stick of charcoal in a jug of water, wait a few hours, and voila!
While I have nothing at all to say about any of these aforementioned things, (except maybe to note that charcoal ice cream temporarily stains your teeth the same color as the pint), I do have a few things to say when it comes to this much celebrated charcoal entering our toothpastes.
Have you seen videos of people brushing their teeth with black globs of sticky stuff and wondered to yourself, “Why put charcoal in toothpaste?” This is especially interesting after divulging the fact that a first date could be complicated by stained teeth from trying charcoal ice cream with a potential future life partner. What would brushing with charcoal before a first date do to you teeth?
Since activated charcoal can bind to things due to its micro-porous nature, it seems that some are of the mind that it can also bind plaque and bacteria and tartar. There is the added benefit of whiter teeth, as well. So, why don’t we dig deeper about these two topics?
Not any more than we do! Activated charcoal is porous in nature. The thinking behind removing bacteria with activated charcoal is that plaque and micro-organisms will be caught in the pores of the charcoal particles, and thus be removed. Possible, but it seems that it does this at a similar rate as regular old toothpaste would. So, no, there is no special binding relationship between the new celeb and our bacteria.
There isn’t much claim about the detoxifying nature of charcoal toothpaste. The gums and teeth are not at all similar to your liver and kidneys, which take on the job of clearing your body of toxins. Because of this, the charcoal in toothpaste is not exactly detoxifying your body of anything. Of the same token, for those who are using charcoal toothpaste and are concerned about the charcoal affecting your current medications, rest assured that the charcoal is not in contact with the medications in your digestive tract and therefore has no effect. Unless, off course, you are swallowing the toothpaste rather than spitting it out.
The simple answer is, “Yes it does”. Bizarre that you can brush with black to make them white! Charcoal is effective in removing surface stains, which isn’t exactly equated to whitening teeth. Surface stains are extrinsic staining on the teeth due to a coffee drinking habit, or the occasional red wine indulgence. These stains reside on the enamel layer which happens to also be the outermost layer of your tooth. Typically, other ‘whitening’ toothpastes remove these stains as well.
However, this isn’t to be equated with whitening teeth. Your teeth can also have intrinsic stains, either caused by trauma, certain medications, weak enamel, or excess fluoride use. These intrinsic stains cannot be removed by toothpaste, with or without charcoal, primarily because the toothpaste will never reach these stains. Whitening of intrinsic staining can only occur from bleaching treatments (whether that’s in-office or over-the-counter) that penetrate past the enamel. But if you wish to use charcoal toothpaste to help reduce stains due to a cold brew habit, then charcoal toothpaste will suffice.
Unfortunately, charcoal is abrasive. Part of what makes it so good at removing extrinsic stains is the fact that it is rough and can rub off discolorations that are stuck in the pores of your teeth (teeth are porous too!). However, the concern is that charcoal acts like sandpaper rubbing against your teeth. Anyone who has consumed or brushed with charcoal will know the grainy feeling it leaves in your mouth. Like sandpaper, repetitive use of the stuff can abrade parts of the outer enamel layer. The enamel is the strongest part of our bodies (stronger than bone!) and our teeth need it as protection. Removal of the enamel layer will weaken the tooth and cause hypersensitivity. You know those electrifying ‘zings’ you feel after a tooth whitening session? Imagine a permanent version of that if the enamel is removed. Yikes!
Ironically, too, the removal of enamel makes the teeth even more prone to staining for future years to come. Enamel is definitely something we want to protect. If you are planning on using charcoal toothpaste, then consider brushing lightly and gently.
Also, before you declutter your regular toothpaste, may I suggest alternating your charcoal toothpaste with the regular one? Like all trends, charcoal coolness may fade, and you may be once again reaching for your trusty familiar toothpaste brand. At the very least, the alternation will help reduce abrasion to your beautiful, pearly whites. Plus, most charcoal toothpastes do not have fluoride, a good protector of teeth. Fluoride is what helps fight dental decay, and as much as we want white teeth, I am sure you would agree that we want to KEEP our teeth even more.
Since charcoal is a recent celebrity, it is too early to tell what its really about. Better to wait until the tabloids (and research) unearth its true qualities before we fall head over heels for this new star.
I’ve made so many simple swaps over the years to be a little more kind to the planet that I hardly think about them now. They’re so ingrained in my day-to-day life, and I’d love for more people to feel the same way (namely, that it's so easy!).
Please note: This is by no means an exhaustive list of ways I try to save the planet or ways you can save the planet. These are not all the answers, but a starting point. I’ve tagged some products in this post, but I know it’s better to shop locally instead of sourcing all over the internet (so do that if possible!). Also, I love recycling, but I also try hard not to use single-use plastics and add to the problem of where it all goes.
This list is simply something to think about, and maybe a place to start. Have you made small but impactful changes to reduce your footprint? Do you, too, struggle with refusing a straw?
written by Samantha Tillapaugh from The Debtist
We all know that brushing our teeth is essential to having a wonderful smile. But as much as we are in denial, as much as we resist and kick and scream and throw a tantrum, the truth is that flossing is just as important at keeping our smile healthy. You know what they say; "Floss only the teeth that you want to keep!" It may not be what you wanted to hear, but if it's any consolation, in the modern world, you have tons of flossing options. Today, we discuss the new and shiny water flosser, and how it compares to the old school way of flossing with string.
There are many names for the water flosser, such as water pick or jet floss. Whatever you choose to call it, it is an electric device that shoots pressurized, pulsating water at your teeth. Its mission: to remove bacteria, plaque, and food debris around the gums and from in between teeth. It has a water tank connected to a motorized pump, which is attached to a specialized tip that shoots water at an area that you wish to clean. Think of it as a miniature power hose, shooting right at the bad bacteria and yucky food debris, the culprits of bad breath, gum disease, and tooth decay!
Now that you know what a water flosser is, you may be wondering, "What's the difference?" There are many differences between a water flosser and the traditional string floss. Before you choose which one suits your lifestyle and needs best, here are a few things to consider:
Unfortunately, water flossers are fairly new and are just starting to be widely used. As with any novel product, it takes time to gather the data required to make a sound judgement about their efficiency. There is still a fair amount of debate regarding whether or not water flossers can be used to replace flossing the traditional way. Although opinions vary, most dentists (including myself) are not ready to confirm that a water flosser can entirely replace the string floss.
Clinical studies have found that people who used water floss saw a greater reduction in gum disease and gum bleeding as compared with string floss. So that's good! A water floss is great for the gums because it sprays water and massages the gums, which then increases blood circulation in these areas. Increased blood circulation means that your body can bring anti-inflammatory factors to your gums more, which then reduces bleeding and inflammation of the gums. However, some studies have also shown that while water flossers can remove most debris and bacteria, it is not very good at removing plaque. The amount of pressure required to remove plaque is equivalent to the amount of pressure a power hose needs to remove paint! That's a lot of pressure! Using pressure like that can be very harmful to the gums, which is why most water flossers recommend using the lower settings. Lastly, even though it appears that water flossers can improve gum health, it is not necessarily true for teeth. Some patients are surprised to find that they have cavities after ditching the traditional floss for the water pick. Why does this happen?
The reason is that, while water flossers shoot a stream of water between your teeth and does a great job of removing food particles and rinsing teeth, the string floss, with its scraping motion, does a better job at removing plaque. The scraping motion of the string floss is what removes plaque which, if left on teeth, can eventually become tarter and result in gum disease. Additionally, the water from a water pick cannot wedge itself between tight contacts. Food can easily get stuck right where two neighboring teeth touch. A string is much better at wedging itself in between the contacts and removing the food. For this reason, I believe that string floss is better at preventing cavities and is just as good at preventing gum disease.
While most dentists still recommend using string floss, it is true that there are some cases in which individuals will not be able to use string floss.
The following is a list of conditions that make it difficult for individuals to use the traditional floss.
In these cases, water flossers take the cake and are a great alternative. It also rings true that for some individuals, they simply will not floss because they dislike it so much. If you are one of these individuals, may I recommend first trying other types of string floss first? Some are easier to use than others. For example, glide ribbon floss will have an easier time getting in between tight, crowded teeth, and moves very smoothly along your gums. If you are looking for an alternative to the mint flavor, I personally recommend Cocofloss. They carry many fun flavors and is a great option for young kids as well, since they make flossing so much fun! That being said, if you know deep down that you really are not going to floss (maybe because you really just can't get into the habit or can't get the hang of it), then using a water flosser is recommended, since it is WAY better than doing nothing at all! At the end of the day, as long as you try your best to floss, your smile is going to thank you for it.
How about you guys? Which flosser do you prefer?
Earlier this month, Heather presented in Fargo to a crowd of more than 100 very engaged people. She talked about Bogobrush's vision for expanding our giving program and continuing the work of building a company with the values we believe in - eco and social.
Heather in her element!
Heather also got the opportunity to meet Sarah from North Dakota State University's Engineers Without Borders program, who we've been working with as a new giving partner.
Fargo has been an awesome community of support for Bogobrush from the very beginning, and Heather felt honored to speak to the community again and share what's to come with Bogobrush. (Hint: new giving partners! New materials!)
If you'd like to see Heather's entire presentation, check out it out here! (Heather comes on at about 7 minutes and 30 seconds into the video.)
written by Samantha Tillapaugh from The Debtist
We all know that prevention is better than treatment when it comes to your teeth. Wanting the finest for our teeth, we search for the best gadgets to aid us in making sure our pearly whites are nice and healthy. The most often used tool, and thus your tooth’s best friend, is the handy dandy toothbrush. But when it comes time to select your toothbrush of choice, the wide array of choices sitting on the shelf or available on the net can be very, very overwhelming. Looking at the dilemma from the macro-level, I think the most common fork in the road occurs where we have to choose between a manual toothbrush and an electric toothbrush. Here, I will review the pros and cons of both options, and then talk about which one I myself choose to use, and why.
When patients come to me and ask if they need an electric toothbrush, many of them are surprised when I tell them that the answer is no. There are a few groups of people who could benefit from an electric toothbrush, but it is not necessary for everyone to have in order to maintain good oral health. Electric toothbrushes greatly benefit people with Parkinson’s Disease, Rheumatoid Arthritis, or other such conditions that could impair one’s ability to hold and maneuver a toothbrush. Spinning and vibrating (and whirling and twirling) bristles are really great at restoring one’s manual dexterity when it has been lost. However, if you do not have any existing conditions that impair movement, then there is likely no need for an electric toothbrush at all.
An electric toothbrush is useful because you’ve got this machine that moves in certain directions to remove the sticky plaque building up on your teeth, but it does have its limitations. Usually, the direction that a toothbrush head spins or vibrates is singular. With manual toothbrushes, you can vary the direction of your brushing at any time, which can be more effective. For example, if your teeth are slightly crooked, an electric toothbrush that only spins in a clockwise direction may miss a particular spot that a manual toothbrush can reach by moving side to side, or up and down. Depending on where the tight corners in your particular dentition are, you can alter the same toothbrush to move different ways in order to reach very difficult areas. Also, the electric brushes are very strong, which some people are not aware of. Using them requires an even softer hand than using a manual brush. Even though the intentions are good, pushing down on an electric toothbrush can cause too much trauma on the gums, causing gum recession. We like gums as much as teeth, so this is no good. Therefore, using an electric toothbrush may seem easier, but easier does not always mean better.
The truth of the matter is, most people would do just fine with a manual toothbrush. I understand that it takes some time (and practice) to learn how to use a manual toothbrush, but the same is true of anything else in your life. Once mastered, the chore becomes a habit, and habits are subconscious and therefore become easy. If you can put in the time and effort to learn how to use a toothbrush effectively, then a manual toothbrush would work equally as well as an electric toothbrush! But, if you do not want to put in the effort to learn how to properly yield a manual toothbrush, then yes, you can buy a gadget and it can do the work for you. It makes sense that the results of inefficient manual toothbrush techniques will be subpar with the results of a vibrating electric device. However, what most people do not understand is that learning how to brush really well can yield results that are as good, and sometimes even better, than your new gadget.
On that note, most patients are surprised to learn that I myself choose to use solely manual toothbrushes. There are many reasons why I opt for the manual brushes. As an advocate of slower-living, a lover of nature and sustainable products, and a fan-girl of the lost art of doing things for ourselves, I am partial towards tooth brushing by hand. Manual toothbrushes give us sustainable product options that are more eco-friendly than their plastic vibrating counterparts. We have manual brushes on the market that are biodegradable, recyclable, or recycled themselves. It allows me to pick a product that is in line with my values and my intention of creating less waste. Additionally, I have more control with a manual toothbrush. I can move the bristles in directions that are good for my particular dentition and I can alter the pressures that I place on my gums a bit easier. And lastly, I find them to be much more cost-effective. My persona as the Debtist easily explains why cost-efficiency is important for me. From a dentist perspective, I understand that we can do just as well with a manual as we can with an electric one.
While electric toothbrushes do have their uses and are a huge help to those who need it, I believe we have gotten to a point where they may be a bit over-hyped (and possibly over-sold) for the sake of convenience. It’s an easy answer to the question, “How do I brush my teeth well?” Instead of teaching people to be better brushers, we are making them dependent on a tool to do the work for them, and the cost is more plastic being introduced into our environment at ever-increasing price as less and less people learn how to effectively brush. I tell patients all the time that we are responsible for our oral health, and we shouldn’t depend solely on spinning brush wheels. We need to take our oral health back into our own hands. Quite literally. And with that, the battle of the brushes continue.
My name is Samantha Tillapaugh. I am a practicing general dentist in Orange County, California, as well as a lifestyle blogger at thedebtist.com. When I am not writing or saving the world, one tooth at a time, I am usually finding as many ways as possible to be in nature. I love traveling to other countries, mostly to learn more about other cultures and to broaden my perspective. When I am home, I spend my days making good cups of coffee, baking home-made sourdough bread, reveling in a quiet yoga practice, or reading books on a couch, to quench my unending thirst for more knowledge.
I am known as The Debtist due to the large amount of debt that I accrued going to dental school. The debt has led me to embrace a very simple lifestyle, focused around daily choices that do good for the planet, and the people on it. I went into dentistry with the goal of helping people, and I wanted to extend that past the patients I interact with every day. I recently decided to create a section on my blog where I could share my dental knowledge online, so that my education does not go to waste! I figure that I paid a lot of money to learn all that I know, so that I could share it with my patients, and the world at large, for free.
I am so excited to be partnering with Bogobrush in their quest to make oral health care cool! Your oral health care does not have to be complicated, confusing, or scary. Instead, we want to educate others about their teeth, in order to empower them to take control of their oral health. We want to make it very easy to talk about current, relevant, real-life topics, as well as provide actionable tips that anyone can take to ensure that they have a smile that shines. I hope to shed light on some of the facts (and occasionally, personal opinions), but this is never the final say. I write as a means to share what I know, with an open-ness to learn more. Feel free to express your opinions, ask questions, or to just reach out. With that, we are glad you are here.
ON APRIL 22, FIFTEEN DETROITERS GATHERED for the Earth Day Clean Up we sponsored with The Collective at True North. Armed with work gloves, and garbage bags of all shapes and sizes, this crew ventured into the endless blocks of trash near the Core City neighborhood in Detroit.
We picked up garbage for 2 hours, and made our way through only 1 city block. One block! We ended up with 2 mounded pick-up loads, and nearly 50 bags of trash. Plenty of garbage was not even accessible through the brambles of bushes, or were rubber tires that need special pick-up. But, it's pretty amazing how cleaning up affects the neighborhood.
After the event, Bre (co-founder of The Collective) was closing up and a neighbor came out and shared this touching story:
"I'm 84 years old and have lived on the street for 50 years. I saw people outside and just had to come out and say thank you for taking time to do something about the trash in the area. I raised 10 kids in this house and now I have grandchildren and great-grandchildren! This little corner of Detroit used so vibrant; filled with cafes and shops. It makes me feel so happy to see all the new things coming to the area and that the people moving in truly care about bringing the neighborhood back."
Every bit matters. <3
Thanks to all the Detroiters who came out for Earth Day. Stay tuned for another clean-up event later this summer.
Bogobrusher and Wefunder Investor, Scott, recently shared with us his story for being a Bogobrush fan. Scott is a self-described "recovering mechanical engineer" with decades of experience creating sustainable buildings. His story is both practical and endearing. Read on. :)
So, why did I invest in Bogobrush on Wefunder in the first place? Often people, companies, and organizations feel overwhelmed when faced with improving sustainability. It is a huge issue and we often feel very small or not impactful enough. One of the concepts that I present (and the hundreds of engineers that worked for me over the years heard over and over and...well you get it) is any number times a big number is a big number.
When we first started Bogobrush, one guiding rule was that everything we create should benefit the planet, and the people who live on it. To benefit the planet, we committed to bring products into the world that would never end up in a landfill. To benefit people, it meant those products had to be uncompromising in their quality, cleaning your teeth as well or better than any toothbrush on the market. What we quickly realized was that there were plenty of "eco" toothbrushes that promised to be good for the environment, but completely failed at their task of cleaning teeth.
450 million toothbrushes end up in US landfills every year
We knew that there had to be a way to make a product responsibly, locally, and sustainably that still functioned perfectly. The book, Cradle to Cradle had long been an inspiration to us, and we followed the process to create two collections of products: A Recycled plastic toothbrush that can recycled over and over again, and a Biodegradable composite toothbrush that is made from plants, and can be composted at the end of it's life.
We were beyond fortunate to meet our friends and partners at C2renew who were innovating in the science of bio-composites, and were willing to try their new materials out on our humble toothbrush.
With our Naked Flax collection, you will get a product with zero compromise for the planet, or your smile. If you haven't already, give your daily routine an upgrade, and say goodbye to the landfill by getting your hands on a toothbrush that is designed to be different. Order your Bogobrush here, and start brushing better.