Hacks: Forgot Your Toothpaste, Now What?

Businesswoman looking at smartphone outside of a building

Nothing is more frustrating than unpacking your suitcase and realizing that you forgot some of your most essential toiletries- especially when they have to do with your oral care. Whether you forgot to pack your toothpaste for a trip, don’t have time to pick some up before your big meeting, or you realize you ran out right before bed, here a few hacks to get you through!

Don’t be afraid to ask

Many hotels offer complimentary toothpaste to guests upon request. And who doesn’t love free stuff? If you’re traveling and realize you forgot your toothpaste, head down to the front desk! Chances are they’ll be more than happy to help you out.

Brush with mouthwash

Yes, you read that correctly. Unfortunately, swishing mouthwash isn’t enough to remove stubborn plaque from your teeth. So, skip the swish and give your toothbrush a dunk into your mouthwash until the bristles are completely covered and gently brush away lingering plaque. Bonus? You’ll still walk away with minty fresh breath.

Brush with water

The simple act of brushing your teeth, even without toothpaste, can have lots of benefits. Brushing with a wet toothbrush will still remove food particles and plaque from your teeth. The downside? Brushing with water won’t help freshen your breath.

Brush with sea salt

Sea salt is naturally antibacterial, and some of its nutrients can neutralize acids in your mouth and soothe swollen gums. Other bonuses? Salt stimulates saliva production which naturally washes out bacteria. Mix a half teaspoon of sea salt into warm water and combine. Dip your toothbrush into the saltwater solution and brush as usual. The natural grittiness of the salt can be effective in removing surface stains but be sure to brush gently because it can also wear away your tooth enamel if you brush too hard.

Chew sugarless gum

While chewing gum won’t solve all of your breath and brushing problems, it’s a decent option as a last resort. Just make sure it’s sugar-free, or it will end up doing more harm than good. Chewing gum loosens food particles and produces saliva which naturally washes away lingering bacteria. And, perhaps the most convincing benefit? It will help mask your morning breath. At least for a little while, anyway.

These hacks can be a lifesaver when you’re in need, but they should not replace your regular oral care routine- which should include toothpaste. And while we all love to flex our creativity with DIY projects, toothpaste is not the best place to start. DIY toothpaste can be very rough on tooth enamel and gums, and they also do not contain an essential ingredient in commercial toothpaste: fluoride. Give your teeth the attention and care they deserve and stick with your oral care routine as recommended by your dentist.

This article is intended to promote understanding of and knowledge about general oral health topics. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your dentist or other qualified healthcare provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or treatment.

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How to FLOSS

  1. Pull 18 to 24 inches of dental floss from the floss dispenser.

  2. Wrap the ends of the floss around your index and middle fingers.

  3. Hold the floss tightly around each tooth in a C shape; move the floss back and forth in a push-pull motion and up and down against the side of each tooth.

How to BRUSH

  1. Place the toothbrush at a 45°angle along the gum line. Move the toothbrush in a back and forth motion, and repeat for each tooth.

  2. Brush the inside surface of each tooth, using the same back and forth technique.

  3. Brush the chewing surface (top) of each tooth.

  4. Use tip of brush to brush behind each tooth — front and back, top and bottom and up and down strokes.

  5. Be sure to brush your tongue to remove odor-causing bacteria.