You forgot your toothbrush at home. You’re travelling. Or perhaps you’re sleeping over at a friend’s house. Or maybe you’re camping, or worse, there’s been an emergency, and you need to spend the evening at a hospital tending to a sick friend or family member. In any of these cases, what are you going to do if you have no toothbrush?
Well the obvious first answer, of course, is to buy a new one. Well yeah, that would solve it all, wouldn’t it… But for any of a number of reasons, you may not be able to get to a store to pick up a new toothbrush and well, your teeth and breath are not really keen on waiting. But don’t fret. There are a few things you can do until you and your toothbrush are reunited to keep the oral bacteria at bay…
Ask and You May Receive
If you are staying in a hotel, the concierge may actually be able to help you. Some hotels do keep spares on hand as a courtesy to their guests. It never hurts to ask. Hospitals actually stock disposable toothbrushes for their patients. Known as oral swabs, they look like pink foam lollipops and are pre-medicated with toothpaste that foams when you wet it. They are purposely gentle, as they are created for use in patients who may have sensitive or bleeding gums, or even mouth sores, as a side effect to chemotherapy or some other medical condition. They will, however, do for anyone in a pinch.
The Old Finger Toothbrush
It’s a tried and true method. In a pinch, your finger may actually be quite useful in cleaning the surfaces of your teeth, or at least taking off some of the gunk that’s been collecting over the course of the day. If you have toothpaste, fantastic! Smear it on, swish it about with some water, and you’re good to go.
If you don’t have access to toothpaste, baking soda is actually a terrific alternative, and will scrub the surfaces of your teeth nicely without damaging them, provided you are gentle. In fact, baking soda is an ingredient in a lot of toothpastes, due to its ability to help neutralize the acids that cause tooth decay. Even if you do recover your toothbrush, you may want to consider including baking soda in your oral care regimen.
Natural Toothbrush Substitutes
Sage leaf is good to rub on your teeth to help get them clean. Chewing on certain twigs such as birch or elm, or licorice root can be helpful in cleaning your teeth’s surfaces. Cactus or pine needles also make great natural toothpicks! Crunchy vegetables such as carrots or celery can actually help to clean your teeth, too! Even apples can be helpful, although you would need to make sure and rinse your mouth with water afterwards, to remove any of the remaining sugar.
Of course, your most powerful natural resource is always going to be water. It helps to wash away food debris, as well as sugars that may remain in the mouth after eating. It helps to neutralize acids produced by bacteria. These acids are at the root of dental decay, so anything you can do to counteract their effects is fantastic.
Chewing Sugarless Gum
It’s usually not high on any dentist’s oral care list, but in a pinch, some sugarless gum can actually go a long way towards cleaning the surfaces of your teeth until you can properly brush them. Like anything, don’t overdo it, and certainly don’t think about using gum as a regular substitute for brushing your teeth. But hey, in an emergency, you do what you can.
And you might want to consider getting a spare toothbrush to keep in your handbag or briefcase, for just such an emergency…