How Do Astronauts Brush Their Teeth?

Drawing of a silver rocket with 3 yellow windows shooting across a blue sky with yellow stars

Have you ever wondered how astronauts brush their teeth in space without gravity to help them out? There are a few products like chewable and ingestible toothpaste that can clean an astronaut’s teeth without brushing. However, dental savvy astronauts know that actually brushing their teeth is more effective. Read on to learn why brushing in space requires more patience and concentration than brushing on Earth!

An Astronaut’s Dental Hygiene

When astronauts brush their teeth in zero gravity, they use the same toothbrush and toothpaste that you can buy at your local drugstore. It is not the tools that make brushing your teeth in space difficult, but the conditions. An astronaut needs to keep toothpaste on their toothbrush and the brush in their mouth in a place without gravity, all while using very little water.

So How Do Astronauts Brush Their Teeth in Space?

Though brushing your teeth in space may be difficult, astronauts have discovered some creative ways to combat the challenges. Many astronauts keep their hygiene kits (where they keep their toothbrush and toothpaste) anchored to a wall with velcro so they don’t float away. The top of the toothpaste tube stays attached even when open so astronauts don’t have to worry about it floating away.

Here’s a step-by-step example of how astronauts might brush their teeth:

    1. They start by filling a drink bag with water and bringing it to where they keep their hygiene kits.

    2. The astronauts secure the drink bag behind a rubber bungee and remove their kit from the wall.

    3. They unzip the kit to retrieve their toothpaste tube, which they stick to the velcro wall.

    4. They remove their toothbrush from inside the hygiene kit and grip it between a few fingers while they put the kit back behind the bungee so nothing floats away.

    5. Using one hand, the astronauts remove their drink bag, flip open its straw clamp (which keeps the water inside the bag), and squeeze a bit of water onto the toothbrush.

    6. While holding the toothbrush in one hand, they hold the straw of the drink bag in their teeth, and replace the straw clamp and put the bag back behind the bungee with their other hand.

    7. The astronauts open the toothpaste cap to squeeze some onto the toothbrush and begin brushing. Since there is no sink, they have to swallow the toothpaste and rinse with some water.

    8. Finally, the astronauts dry their toothbrush and return it and their toothpaste to the hygiene kit.

Next time you’re brushing your teeth, try it the way an astronaut might and you’ll be thankful for gravity! And remember that your earthly smile needs regular cleanings and checkups. Contact us today!

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