I am constantly looking for ways to reduce my damaging impact on the earth. I am relentless with recycling to the point where I am head-first digging into the trash to retrieve recyclable items that may have been mistakenly tossed in there. I watch the online videos that my local Department of Sanitation puts out so I can learn more about how to recycle properly and I share them with others on social media. I’ve gotten into buying refillable soap dispensers so I am only buying 1 recyclable plastic jug of soap less frequently, rather than 3 smaller single use pumps—and I am doing the same with the Method spray cleaner I use to clean our house. When I don’t have the occasion to use my reusable shopping bags I keep in my purse, I collect up the single use bags and recycle them when I go back to the store. I recycle bread bags, dry cleaning bags, product packaging in the same manner. I have learned that if you can stretch the plastic on those bags with your fingers they can be recycled. (So the plastic bags that salad come in are NOT recyclable because you can’t stretch them.) These are things I’ve learned and applied to my daily life. I switched to bamboo toothbrushes, and I got onto the idea that I can cut the heads off my toothbrush and burn the handles in my fireplace.

But here are some things that I thought were an awesome idea, but the practical application weren’t all there. For example, I tried switching to bamboo floss, but found that it was too thick and I struggled with getting it between my teeth. Also, the compostable plastic packaging was a pain in the butt, the little blade thingy on top of the box promptly snapped off—so then I had to cut my floss with scissors every day. I finished the bamboo floss and never bought it again, went back to my beloved Glide, but I still cringe whenever I throw out the plastic used floss. I recently discovered floss made of silk. I am waiting to try it until my Glide runs out. I am not a wasteful person… I used every inch of that lousy bamboo floss before switching back to my Glide. Now I will use every inch of that Glide before I try the silk floss patiently waiting in a reusable glass jar in my drawer.

Then I kept seeing ads for Bite Toothpaste bits, and the idea immediately caught my attention. Toothpaste tubes aren’t something you can just chuck into the curbside recycling bin because the tubes are made of a combination of metal and plastic. The ad brought it to my attention that billions of tubes of toothpaste are getting thrown out every year, the tiny ones you buy for travel and the larger ones you’d use at home. With the Bite toothpaste tabs, they come in a glass jar, and every time you brush your teeth you’d take one out of the jar, bite into it, swirl your toothbrush around in it in your mouth and it foams up and you can brush your teeth. Brilliant! Sign me up! I ordered.

They sent 2 glass jars in the introductory pack, one that had charcoal tablets, and the other were plain mint ones. I bit into it and after a few tries got the hang of getting a decent amount of foam. My teeth didn’t feel as fresh and minty as they normally would with Crest. But they still felt clean overall, and my hygenist didn't notice any difference in the cleanliness of my teeth at my last checkup. Here you can see how much foam that Bite toothpaste tablets produce. Not too shabby.

BJ Knapp author of Beside the Music tried Bite Toothpaste Tablets.

But then I started to discover a few things I didn’t like about Bite. They don’t make the tablets with fluoride. I really really do not understand why fluoride in toothpaste is such a big deal and why “natural” and “sustainable” toothpaste makers refuse to include it. My dentist is a huge fan of it. And because he has the degrees on the wall of his office qualifying him to know what’s good for my teeth, I am as also a very big fan of fluoride and the benefits it can provide to my teeth. Bite doesn’t have fluoride, so I am turned off to that.

Another massive turn off about Bite is the price. They sell it on a subscription basis. So every month they’ll send you enough to make it through the month and charge something like $25 per month for the two of us. One jar with 62 tablets costs $12, but we need to double that because there are two of us using them. I am not crazy about the idea that they have to send the refills once per month. I would be happier with a larger jar that would last 6 months that they can ship on a less frequent basis—thus lowering carbon footprint for delivery. Also, I find that price absurd. I will typically bulk buy 3 tubes of Crest from BJs Wholesale, with a coupon, for about $10 and that will last longer than one month. And I do recycle the plastic wrap and the boxes they come in.

I took my search to Amazon to look for an alternative to Bite. I wanted something cheaper and something with fluoride and I found Dent Tabs. I ordered the 120 tablets for something like $15, and waited for them to arrive from Germany. So, in terms of lowering carbon footprint, this is not a viable option as I am now importing toothpaste from the other side of the world. I bit into the German tablets, and instantly hated them. While Bite will react with my saliva and foam up, the German tablets ended up sucking up all the moisture in my mouth and I was left with a crumbly chalky mess all jammed up between my teeth with no hope for foam. But at least it had fluoride that I had to then floss to remove the dust from in between my teeth.

I ended up throwing out the German tablets, and went back to my tried and true Crest. I will continue to keep my eyes peeled for an affordable tablet option that has fluoride and cleans well. But until then, Crest will keep the Cavity Creeps from making holes in my teeth.

BJ Knapp is the author of Beside the Music, available for purchase here. Please sign up for the Backstage with BJ Knapp mailing list to get updates on events, signings, dog pictures and so much more.

BJ Knapp is the author of Beside the Music, available for purchase here. Please sign up for the Backstage with BJ Knapp mailing list to get updates on events, signings, dog pictures and so much more.