Alternative Oral Hygiene Tips

Baking soda and water.

Add a teaspoon of either baking soda or sea salt to a cup of water, gargle and spit, and then rinse with clean water.

Have you run out of a basic oral hygiene product? No problem.

There are a number of fairly common household items that can stand in for your favorite toothpaste or dental floss until you can make it to the store.

Here are a few time-tested tips and tricks for making do with what you (probably) have on hand the next time you run out of dental care basics or – bummer! – your 2 year old accidentally drops your toothbrush into the john.

Oral care without a toothbrush:

  • Use your finger: place a dab of toothpaste on your pointer finger and rub all the surfaces of your teeth
  • Try a wash cloth: Wrap a terry wash cloth around a fingertip, apply paste, and use the improvised brush to brush as normal
  • Chew sugar free gum: Chewing sugar free gum when you can’t brush can help to reduce plaque and prevent cavities

Oral care without toothpaste:

  • Do without: use your toothbrush dry or with a little water to brush as you normally would
  • Use baking soda or sea salt: dampen the bristles of the toothbrush and dip them into a shallow dish of either baking soda, sea salt or a mixture of both, and go to it – Gently!
  • Use coconut oil: place a small amount of coconut oil (which recent studies suggest can help fight tooth decay) on your toothbrush and brush as usual

Oral care without floss:

  • Try a toothpick: while a toothpick is certainly not the recommended method for cleaning between teeth, it’s still better than nothing when there’s no floss on hand
  • Use a length of sewing thread: gently draw the thread between your teeth as you would with dental floss, but be careful that it does not snap up against the gum too aggressively
  • Use a piece of paper: while not really workable for cleaning all your teeth, a piece of paper may help to dislodge articles between front teeth when dental floss or another interdental device is unavailable: careful though – paper can cut

 Oral care without mouthwash:

  • Make a baking soda or sea salt rinse: add a teaspoon of either baking soda or sea salt to a cup of water, gargle and spit, and then rinse with clean water
  • Try vinegar: like salt, vinegar is one of the most ancient of mouthwash ingredients; simply gargle, spit, and rinse
  • Raid the liquor cabinet: in a pinch, an alcoholic beverage such as vodka or brandy can be used as an effective oral rinse

Don’t put off replacing basic oral hygiene products

Of course, none of the tips and tricks above are meant to be permanent replacements for dentist-approved oral care products. However, the next time you forget to pack a toothbrush or discover there are only 2 inches of dental floss left, at least you’ll have some ideas to help you get by.

And here’s a final tip – stock up on the items you use, and you’ll never have to try any of the tips in this post.

So, what do you use when you run out of an oral hygiene product?

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