PANGA Founder Ingrid Adeogun is Saving the Planet, One Smile at a Time
Taking care of our teeth isn’t just the key to a stunning smile: good oral hygiene is an important component of our overall health.
Unfortunately, most of the tools we use when cleaning our teeth, including floss and toothbrushes, are typically made of earth-unfriendly materials such as plastic.
According to the American Dental Association, people in the United States throw away one billion plastic toothbrushes each year, which creates 50 million pounds of non-recyclable waste. If you laid all of those toothbrushes end to end, they would wrap around the Earth four times.
But damage to the environment is not a requirement when it comes to oral hygiene. Just as other sectors of the beauty industry are becoming eco-focused, including these environmentally friendly brands, you now have choices when it comes to maintaining a brilliant, healthy smile that’s good for the planet, too.
Helping people and helping the planet
Having worked in the dental industry for a decade, and as a registered dental hygienist for most of those years, Ingrid Adeogun was not willing to stand back and watch as the oral care industry caused so much destruction to the environment. So she created PANGA, a line of environmentally friendly and beautifully designed oral hygiene essentials.
PANGA’s products include a biodegradable bamboo toothbrush (in both adult and children’s sizes) that comes in three colors; a bad breath-reducing copper tongue scraper that is both antibacterial and antimicrobial; and compostable floss picks to remove plaque and bacteria that cause decay and gum disease.
Oral hygiene may not be the most obviously important element of our self-care regimens. It’s easy to mindlessly brush our teeth and call it a day, but oral hygiene is an important facet of our overall health.
Without properly caring for our teeth, gums, and tongue, we can develop cavities, gingivitis (inflammation of the gums), and periodontal disease (destruction of the bone surrounding your gums). Not to mention how the care of our mouths impacts our smiles and the scent of our breath.
Kinder Beauty had the opportunity to interview Adeogun about how she founded PANGA and what inspires her to continue her work to support people’s oral health —all while working to help save the planet.
KINDER BEAUTY: What did you do before founding PANGA?
Ingrid Adeogun: I’ve been in the dental industry for over 10 years, and I am currently working as a Dental Hygienist in Portland, Oregon in addition to managing PANGA.
KB: What was the inspiration for the name PANGA?
IA: I wanted to celebrate my family roots. PANGA is an acronym of everywhere my family originates from: Puerto Rico, Argentina, Nigeria, Germany, North America.
KB: When was PANGA founded and how did the company get started?
IA: PANGA was founded in 2019. Being in the dental industry, I saw the vast amount of single-use plastic waste firsthand. Toothbrushes, floss, floss picks, and an array of different plastic aids. I searched high and low for products on the market that were environmentally friendly and that also worked well. I wasn’t satisfied, and that’s how PANGA came to life.
KB: What is the impact of plastic dental hygiene products on the environment?
IA: Unfortunately the dental industry is responsible for billions of single-use plastic items each year. This ranges from plastic seat barriers, suction tips, rinse cups, to a multitude of oral care products.
All this waste ends up in our oceans and waterways and leaches toxins into our environment when sitting in landfills.
There is a misconception that proper infection control cannot be achieved without using these aforementioned items. I do believe that we (dental professionals and the community) are on the cusp of change, and rethinking the output of plastic waste is becoming more widely accepted.
KB: Why is oral health important?
IA: Your oral health is linked to your entire body. There are different bacteria linked to gingivitis, periodontal disease, and cavities that can wreak havoc to our overall health.
There are connections between respiratory health, cardiovascular health, and other health issues to high bacterial loads in your mouth. It's important to have a thorough home-care routine, and visit your dental professionals regularly!
KB: What are your favorite dental hygiene tips?
IA: I encourage my patients to dedicate time in the morning and evening to give their mouths a little spa treatment! Developing a routine is the hardest part.
I like to remind my patients that healthy gums don't bleed. If your hands were to bleed when washing them, it would raise an immediate flag.
KB: How do you pick the materials that your environmentally friendly products are made out of?
IA: We focus on utilizing materials that are biodegradable, easily recycled, and compostable. The materials need to withstand daily use and wear, but also need to be gentle enough for our mouths and the environment.
KB: What inspires you to continue your work each day?
IA: I am inspired by my local and growing community! I love developing relationships with my patients and seeing their improved oral health.
I am inspired that people are seriously taking small steps to reduce plastic and useless waste that our earth cannot digest. I believe these small steps can add up to big change.
KB: What is your vision for the future of PANGA?
IA: I hope to spread the word in every way possible. Oral care can indeed be effective and kind to our earth.
Next time you are at your dental appointment, ask them what they are doing to help reduce single-use plastic waste. Anne Marie Bonneau puts it so well: "We don't need a handful of people doing zero waste perfectly. We need millions of people doing it imperfectly."
Healthy mouths, healthy world
With PANGA’s products, Adeogun has created tools for a healthy mouth that are as friendly to the Earth as they are to your smile. You no longer have to wonder what will happen to your dental hygiene tools when you toss them away.
Now, taking care of your smile can also mean taking care of the planet.
And check out our clean, vegan, and earth-friendly products for all your other beauty needs.
Maya Gottfried is the author of books for children and adults, including Our Farm: By the Animals of Farm Sanctuary and Vegan Love: Dating and Partnering for the Cruelty-Free Gal.