Brushing without Toothpaste: What to Do in a Pinch

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You've been looking forward to camping at a music festival for months now. It's your first time going and all of your favorite bands are playing.

But in your excitement to get packed, get out the door and to the festival grounds, you completely forgot to bring toothpaste. You know the importance of brushing twice a day and that using fluoride toothpaste lowers your risk for tooth decay by 15 to 30 percent, as the Centers for Disease Control notes. What can you do when you're in the middle of nowhere and brushing without toothpaste seems to be your only option?

Dry Brush Without Toothpaste

One of the goals of brushing your teeth is to scrub away plaque, that film of bacteria that forms over the teeth. As Teen Health from Nemours points out, brushing also stimulates your gums and prevents gum disease. If you're in a tight spot and have forgotten your toothpaste, but not your toothbrush, one option is to try dry brushing without toothpaste.

Dry brushing is a simple concept. Use your toothbrush like you normally would, sans toothpaste. The bristles should be able to remove some of the plaque that's built up over the course of the day. It's not ideal, but it will help keep your teeth from feeling sticky and gross for the next few days.

Brush with an Alternative

Dentists often recommend brushing with a fluoride toothpaste, since fluoride reduces the risk for cavities. But toothpastes contain many other ingredients, including abrasives and detergents, which help scrub stains from the teeth and wash away plaque and food debris. Interestingly enough, the earliest toothpastes contained actual soap to help get the teeth nice and clean.

When you're at a music festival or campground, there is bound to be someone nearby who has a bottle of castile soap. Castile soap is often peppermint scented, thanks to the presence of peppermint oil. You only need a drop on your toothbrush to help clean your teeth. It won't protect your teeth from cavities like fluoride toothpaste, but it may wash away any debris and plaque and help freshen your breath.

If the idea of brushing your teeth with soap, even an all-natural, non-toxic soap, makes you nervous, there are a few other options. You can try dipping your brush in baking soda, if you can find it, or salt. Both are abrasives that are often found in toothpastes. Salt also helps stimulate the production of saliva in your mouth, which can aid in rinsing away plaque and food bits.

Use a Wisp

Once you've forgotten your toothpaste once, you want to make sure never to do it again. Since you can't guarantee that you'll never leave your toothpaste behind, a simpler option is to always be prepared with a back-up.

A Colgate Wisp helps you enjoy a just-brushed clean anytime, anywhere. The mini brush head cleans the surface of teeth, and it has a soft pick at the end to clean spaces between the teeth. Before your next camping trip or music festival, you can put a few in your pocket or bag, so that you can enjoy the feeling of clean teeth and fresh breath, even if you leave your toothpaste behind.

Concerned about the state of your teeth after you return home from a multi-day trip without toothpaste? Your dentist is here to help. Schedule an appointment for a checkup and cleaning to make sure you didn't develop any cavities during your trip. If you did, your dentist can recommend the best way to treat them.

Don’t brush off your oral health

Brushing and flossing are the keys to a healthy smile. Check out of products to find what’s right for you.