All mouths on deck for Earth Month!
Let’s see the world through mint-colored lenses.
Earth is an infinitely complex landmass floating in space, rotating around the sun at about 1,000 miles an hour. Narwhals and Pink Fairy Armadillos live here, along with rainforests, minivans, and over 8 billion humans. From lifestyles to languages, people on this planet lead strikingly different lives from one another, yet we all agree on one thing: cavities suck.
Despite this universal bummer, last year The World Health Organization reported that 3.5 billion people live with oral disease — that’s 700 times the population of Tokyo. Yikes! A few cavities over the course of a lifetime aren’t a huge deal, but billions of mouths suffering from oral disease at once is a sign of something serious. In 2020, the National Library of Medicine called the state of oral health in the US “the national symbol of social inequality.” Double yikes. This is clearly an issue all mouths should care about — for the sake of our individual and global well-being!
This Earth month, let’s explore the unexpected parallels between the state of your mouth and that of our planet — and find out how building good habits, like a sustainable oral care routine, can bring forth a happier, more wholesome world.
First, some good news
While stubborn cavities and dental disorders are certainly inconvenient and often expensive, most can be both prevented and treated if caught in time. That’s why awareness is key — thankfully, dentists, educators, and oral care brands around the world are dedicated to improving the health of all mouths. And because real doctors and dental pros are swift to adapt to the modern world, conditions in the field are always improving — even as we face social inequality on a global scale.
As of 2022, the number of graduates from dental programs is trending upwards — and bringing forth a generation of dental pros that’s more inclusive than ever! In fact, the ADA reports that the growing number of women in the field is correlated with higher diversity across the board, resulting in a population of experts that actually reflects patient demographics — which is exactly what we’re rooting for.
As for our own reports, we’re proud to celebrate 10 million+ mouths cleaning with quip! Since our launch in 2015, quipsters (like you) across China, Australia, the UK, and over 100 more countries have opted for sustainable oral care. The Earth is feeling the positive impact, too — check out how better habits, for you and the planet, have helped the environment.
By subscribing to brush head refills, you kept 39.3 million disposable brushes from being trashed. That’s over 14,000 US tons of plastic — or 9,333 baby humpback whales!
By reusing your Floss Pick, you kept 262.8 million disposable picks off city streets. That’s enough floss picks to litter a sidewalk from NYC to Sydney, Australia!
By switching to refillable Floss String, you stopped over 1.5 million cubic inches of floss packs from becoming Litter Lunch™ for park-dwelling squirrels.
By refilling your Mouthwash dispenser with our mint concentrate instead of a water-based rinse, you saved 40k gallons of water from being shipped around the world. That’s enough water to fill a fish tank that’s 10 stories high!
And by swapping plastic for recyclable paper, we saved over 100 tons of plastic packaging from ending up in landfills.
Pretty cool! 👅
The root (canal) of the problem
Simply put, the global shifts that’ll improve oral health will take time, especially because dentistry has been notoriously neglected in the global health agenda (not ours though 👀). If we look at the issue from a universal perspective, our main hurdle is to make sure that people in every country and community are able to maintain proper dental and oral hygiene — including annual checkups and specialized treatment when needed, a standard referred to as Universal Health Coverage.
But when we talk about access to the resources needed to maintain a healthy mouth, we have to talk about inequity. Barriers of entry such as health literacy, transportation, lifestyle choices, and more keep the world’s most vulnerable populations from improving their oral health — a gloomy reality that public stewards and health pros are working hard to address. By focusing on education and improvements at the community level, advocates can help minimize the obstacles for underserved people, so impactful products and services get into the right hands (and mouths).
A case for universal care
We’re sure you’ve noticed by now — we make a big deal out of keeping healthy habits simple. It’s in our nature to keep things light (and bright 😄) but seriously — in this economy, taking your health into your own hands is crucial. In 2021, 27.2 million Americans were not insured, even as the overall percentage of coverage rose 1.2% from the previous year. And in many individual cases and countries, even insured folks struggled to get the proper dental care they needed.
Navigating insurance, especially when treating advanced gum disease or oral cancer, can be a serious pain in the mouth, which means Universal Health Coverage can significantly improve a society’s overall wellness by reducing stress in addition to providing care — even if it’s not the perfect solution.
Overall, it’s definitely a cause worth getting behind, especially when you consider the fact that, because large populations of people with poor hygiene can lead to a high demand for dental treatment, healthcare systems benefit too.
Love your smile, love yourself
Now, let’s put a spotlight on a universal language we all know: smiles. We’re big fans of all grins. Crooked, gap-toothed, or perfect-even-though-you-never-had-braces — we’re here for it. It’d be ideal if loving your smile and all its imperfections was always easy-peasy, but we know that societal norms and beauty standards make that hard sometimes. Mainstream media and cosmetic dental standards majorly equate beauty with the “million-dollar smile,” a phrase used to refer to straight, white teeth.
People with mouths that deviate too far from this “blueprint” (like those with missing or stained teeth) may feel self-conscious and develop low self esteem, which can lead to isolation and depression — especially amongst folks who can’t afford or don’t have access to quality dental care. Even if they feel confident in their smile, they may experience discrimination in employment and education, causing shame that exacerbates social inequities.
Regardless of the state of your smile, when you take care of yourself (and your teeth, for two mins, twice a day), the benefits are literally measurable! Last November, Many Smiles Collaboration found that genuine smiles (not just holding a pencil in your mouth and “forcing” a smile) actually made participants feel happier. Interestingly, another theory frames smiles as a tool for social bonding. The bottom line is that smiling has the potential to boost your mood and help you make friends — so it’s important to feel good about yours.
Sustainable habits make a world of difference
When we view the world through mint-colored lenses, we see that the quality of our oral health has a ripple effect on significant sectors of global health, too: economics, education, emotional wellbeing, healthcare, and environmental sustainability, to name just a handful.
It may all feel a bit overwhelming, but the best news is that we’re still human, which means we can always adapt and improve. As a brand, that applies to our products, services, and overall mission. As people — and at the (Earth’s) core of it all — we’ll keep making it a habit to live with love, care, and intention toward ourselves and our big blue home, this month and beyond.