Because we all need to do our part. Water is taken for granted by most people in the US, but water is quickly become an at risk commodity because of our wasteful habits. According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), “The average bathroom faucet [in a home built post 1992] flows at a rate of two gallons per minute [GPM], but for homes built pre-1992, faucets flow at a rate of 4 GPM. Turning off the tap while brushing your teeth in the morning and at bedtime can save up to 8 gallons of water per day [post-1992 faucet], which equals 240 gallons a month!”
While we in dentistry encourage our patients to brush twice a day for the rest of your life, the time has come where we need to be more socially conscious in the education of our patient pool with respect to their use of water while brushing. I encourage all of your family members and friends to turn the water off every time they brush their teeth (at least twice a day) and run the water only when necessary as in rinsing your mouth or cleaning your brush.
That’s it? Yes, that’s all you have to do to be good environmental citizens. Depending on where your water source come from, turning off the tap while brushing your teeth can have a positive impact on our springs, rivers, and wetland habitats that might otherwise be damaged by water treatment plants. The incremental impact when taken as a whole can be lessened in huge ways that will positively affect our entire country and for that matter the entire earth. Applying this practice will equal a savings of over 2,800 gallons of water per year for each individual in the US who takes this simple step. And for those still operating pre-1992 faucets, the number is double.
If you are one of those people that don’t think about how much water your faucet it putting out, you will probably leave your water running while you brush your teeth. Generally, the average person will turn on the water, rinse their tooth brush, put tooth paste on tooth brush, brush their teeth, spit a couple times, brush a little more, rinse tooth brush off, maybe even use a mouth rinse or mouth wash, swish that around a bit, spit it out, rinse out the sink, and finally turn off the water. This process can take up to 3 minutes to complete. In fact, the Oral-B electric brush does a 3 minute countdown to brushing your teeth. So during those 3 minutes about 12 gallons of water is wasted. The average person brushes their teeth 2 – 3 times a day, which would now make your water usage about 24 to 36 gallons of water per person per day. Looked at the usage from this approach, we are up to a single person brushing their teeth anywhere from 732 to 1098 gallons of per month, which is a drastic difference from the conservative amount estimated in the paragraph above. With 365 days in a year, that’s over 13,000 gallons a year. That’s an awful lot of wasted water.
It’s easy. Make a conscious effort to turn off the water while you brush your teeth. Each person in each family can use water more efficiently to preserve water supplies and our environment for future generations. This means that you, your family, and your friends can participate in protecting the future of our nation’s limited water supply and your children’s future each time you brush your teeth. And a self-imposed effort now could avoid our government from stepping in and imposing conservation later. Conserving water is not incompatible with brushing twice a day and as model citizens, you become trustees of small measures that will make a big difference and ensure efficient use of our water supply for generations to come.
It makes cents. If you can’t be motivated by being green, then look at the dollars. The average cost of water is $0.005/gallon. So if a single person uses 13,000 gallons of water a year to brush their teeth, this costs $65/year for 1 person to brush their teeth. So take $65 and multiply this by how many people live in your home and you will see how much water is costing you just for you to keep your teeth healthy. And this doesn’t even count that most jurisdictions charge 1 to 4x for the cost of sewer’ing the water.
It’s simple. Turn your water off unless you are using it. Don’t turn on your water and just let it run in the sink while you are brushings your teeth. And if your faucet is older than 1992, you should to buy a new one.
As always, if we can be of help please contact us.
Novy Scheinfeld, DDS, PC
ZoAnna Scheinfeld, MS, DMD
Hanna Orland, DMD
290 Carpenter Drive, 200A
Atlanta (Sandy Springs), GA, 30328
3781 Chamblee Dunwoody Road
Chamblee, GA 30341