While on vacation, nothing is more frustrating than realizing that a major toiletry item such as a toothbrush or toothpaste has been left behind. This can truly put a damper on an otherwise relaxing getaway, especially if you are vacationing in an area where these items are not readily available. Likewise, simply running out of toothpaste at home can be just as frustrating. Fortunately, there are alternatives to give that freshly brushed feeling without having a toothbrush or toothpaste on hand. Not only do these alternatives offer a way to freshen breath, but they are also effective in removing plaque and food particles from the gums and teeth. This is an important step in the prevention of dental problems such as tooth decay, gingivitis, and cavities.
- Ask for a Complimentary Toothbrush: If you are staying in a hotel and the realization that a toothbrush has been forgotten strikes, be sure to ask the front desk if they provide complimentary toothbrushes.
- Brush With a Damp Washcloth or Paper Towel: For those who are unable to find a complimentary toothbrush in a hotel, a washcloth or paper towel is an excellent alternative. To use a washcloth or paper towel as a toothbrush, simply wet a small corner of the rag and apply a dab of toothpaste (if available). Gently wrap the inside of the washcloth or paper towel around the index finder and proceed to rub the cloth against the teeth. Be sure to reach the fronts and backs of each tooth and then rinse and proceed as usual. If no toothpaste is available, the washcloth or paper towel is still effective for removing plaque and bacteria from teeth. In fact, this is the method most recommended for cleaning a baby’s gums. Follow up with mouthwash to freshen breath.
- Use the Index Finger to Brush: In instances where little materials are available to use as a toothbrush, the index finger is a great option. First, begin by thoroughly washing the hands to ensure that they are clean. Next, apply a small amount of toothpaste to the inside tip of the finger. Then, place the finger against the teeth and move it back and forth in quick sweeping motions until each tooth has been brushed thoroughly. Be sure to rinse the toothpaste and any plaque removed from the mouth after brushing.
- Use Twigs or Leaves to Brush: For those who find themselves without a toothbrush in nature, the great outdoors is filled with excellent toothbrush alternatives. Small twigs and leaves, in particular, are effective. To use this method, first, locate a bendable twig without bark. Next, cut the end of the twig off. This should reveal small fibers inside. These fibers will act as the bristles of a toothbrush. Simply apply toothpaste, if it is available, and brush each tooth as with a standard toothbrush. Take care when using this method to avoid poisonous plants. Safe options include dogwood, maple, and birch.
- Ask for Complimentary Toothpaste: If you are traveling, often, hotels will have complimentary toiletry products on hand. Simply ask the front desk upon arrival if they are able to provide toothpaste.
- Use Mouthwash in Place of Toothpaste: When toothpaste is unavailable, one of the most popular alternatives is to brush using mouthwash. To do so, dip the bristles of the toothbrush into the mouthwash. When the bristles are thoroughly moistened, proceed to brush the teeth as usual. Rinse the mouth thoroughly with water after brushing.
- Brush the Teeth With a Mixture of Baking Soda and Water: Another alternative to toothpaste is to use baking soda. Baking soda is abrasive and works effectively at removing plaque and food particles from the teeth and gums. To use, simply mix a teaspoon of baking soda with a few drops of water until a gritty paste forms. Scoop the baking soda and water mixture onto the bristles of the toothbrush and brush the teeth in quick sweeping motions. The baking soda may leave an unpleasant taste in the mouth, but rinsing after brushing should eliminate the taste and remove excess baking soda.
- Skip Toothpaste and Brush With a Wet Toothbrush: If toothpaste, mouthwash, and baking soda are all unavailable, simply brushing with a clean toothbrush is also a great alternative. Moisten the bristles and brush the teeth as one would normally do after applying toothpaste to the brush. The brushing motions will remove plaque and food particles from the teeth and gums, which is a much better choice than forgoing brushing altogether.