Don't Worry If You Forgot Your Toothbrush! Five Good (And One Bad) Alternatives To Brushing Your Teeth

When you leave the confines of your home for more than a day, there are some things you always make a habit of packing, and your toothbrush is probably toward the top of the list. Forgetting it can be a source of anxiety and frustration, especially if you don't have easy access to a replacement. However, if you do leave home without remembering your toothbrush, don't panic. You don't need to go straight to a cosmetic dentistry specialist. You have some great alternatives available that can clean your teeth in a pinch. Here are five things you can do to clean your teeth, and one thing never to do, if you forget your toothbrush:

Eat crunchy fruits and vegetables

A variety of crunchy fruits and vegetables are excellent choices for cleaning teeth when you don't have a toothbrush handy. Below are a few possibilities:

  • Celery
  • Carrots
  • Cucumbers
  • Cauliflower
  • Onions
  • Apples
  • Pears

These fruits and vegetables scrape your teeth with every bite to remove plaque and food debris. Also, raw onions are known to possess antibacterial agents, and these may help kill tooth decay-causing microorganisms; of course, you need to weigh the benefits of eating a raw onion with the negative effect it will have on your breath odor.

After eating an apple, pear or other fruit, be sure to rinse your mouth with water to remove the sugars that remain behind. Also, you will want to use a toothpick or other sharp object to remove stuck bits of fruits and vegetables caught in between your teeth.

Swish around saltwater

An ancient remedy for many afflictions, saltwater possesses antimicrobial characteristics, and this makes it an effective mouth rinse if you aren't able to access a toothbrush. Simply mix a tablespoon of salt into a cup of warm water, take a mouthful, swish the solution for 30 seconds, and spit. Repeat as many times as necessary until your teeth feel clean. Don't swallow warm salt water, though, as it is also effective at inducing vomiting in case of poisoning.

Chew sugarless gum

A piece of sugarless gum is a great option for tidying your dirty teeth, as it picks up tiny bits of food, plaque and other harmful residues in your mouth. As good as any sugarless gum is at cleaning teeth, gum that contains xylitol is even more effective at fighting potential tooth decay. Xylitol, which occurs naturally in certain plants, is used as a natural sweetener in gum along with other foods. Make it a habit to keep xylitol-sweetened gum with you at all times; it makes an ideal post-meal treat for your teeth, whether you have a toothbrush or not.

Eat a piece of cheese

Cheese contains a substance called casein, a milk protein known for its ability to return minerals back to teeth. Harder cheeses with firm textures "scrub" teeth with every bite; in light of that and its tooth-building chemistry, cheese is an excellent teeth-cleaning alternative. If you don't have cheese available, a glass of milk also provides casein, though it can't provide the physical cleaning of cheese.

Rinse with oil

Another option for cleaning teeth when you don't have a toothbrush available is to rinse your mouth with an edible oil. This includes a diverse number of oils such as coconut oil, olive oil, and sunflower oil, and there is some scientific evidence that these oils have a positive benefit on your teeth by removing harmful substances.

To rinse with oil, take a teaspoon of an edible oil, and swish it around in your mouth for several minutes. When you are finished, spit it out in a trash can or on the ground; don't spit in a sink or toilet, as the oil can collect on plumbing and cause clogs.

Don't borrow a brush!

As unappealing as it may seem to most people, there are individuals who are willing to share their toothbrush with others. Even if you are willing to do this, politely decline the offer. A toothbrush is host to microbes capable of causing plaque and other dental problems, and while your toothbrush contains microbes, too, your mouth is not adapted to the particular strains of bacteria that reside on someone else's brush. An invasion of foreign bacteria can set your mouth up for a devastating attack that may end with tooth decay, gingivitis and other conditions.