How to Brush Your Teeth Like a Backpacker
After a long day on the trails, few things feel better than a shower, fresh deodorant, and brushing your teeth. However, when on a lengthy backpacking trip, you can’t really do any of the above, at least to the extent you’re accustomed to.
When it comes to oral health in the wilderness, you’re limited by two things: The weight of your pack (you probably don’t want to pack in a hefty tube of toothpaste on a multi-day trip), and the environmental problems associated with leaving toothpaste behind.
In order to brush your teeth like a backpacker, there is one fundamental idea you need to know.
There’s a concept in the outdoors called Leave No Trace. It’s exactly what it sounds like: You should leave a natural space in the same condition you found it. Preferably, you should leave the outdoors in an even better condition than you found it. This determines the ethos of backpackers. It’s why they always clean their campsites thoroughly and why they even pack out used toilet paper.
So how do we be conscientious hikers and backpackers while still taking care of our teeth?
You don’t have to go totally Bear Grylls to be an environmentally ethical backpacker. You can still bring your regular toothpaste with you into the wilderness. When you’re done brushing, you shouldn’t just spit out your toothpaste in a big glob in a bush. An animal may try to eat it, which would make them sick. Plus, the chemicals in toothpaste could harm surrounding plants. You don’t want to swallow your toothpaste either, since that can make you sick.
The solution? Spray, don’t spit.
Pour a bit of water into your mouth, swish it around, and try to spray your toothpaste over a vast area to diffuse the environmental impact. Don’t spray into the wind, of course!
If you prefer, there are a number of biodegradable options on the market now. Look for a toothpaste powder where the central ingredient is baking soda. You can find lightly flavored options as well. Some backpackers swear by pure baking powder on their long trips.
If weight is a concern, consider grabbing a travel-sized toothbrush. Even a child’s toothbrush will minimize pack weight and volume.
There are always alternative to keeping your smile healthy, whether you’re in your home or on top of a mountain. Even the most hardcore mountain climbers have to consider their oral health.
At Paradigm Dental, we want to ensure your smile reaches its full potential every day, no matter where in the world you may be. Whatever your concerns, our specialists will happily answer your questions about daily oral health habits.