How Do Astronauts Brush Their Teeth?

You’ve probably had freeze-dried ice cream or another different astronaut-style snack, or you’ve at least heard about the unique ways that astronauts eat in zero-gravity environments. But how do astronauts carry out normal everyday tasks, like brushing their teeth?

What You Need to Brush Your Teeth in Space

Astronauts can use the same types of toothbrushes and toothpastes that we use here on Earth, although it’s easier to use toothpastes with fixed caps so that there’s one less thing to worry about floating around while they’re brushing their teeth. They may also prefer special toothpaste that they can swallow to avoid a mess and extra waste. Another item that astronauts need to brush their teeth are drink bags, which are small foil pouches that are filled with water and come with an attached straw.

The Brushing Process

First, the astronaut attaches their toothpaste tube to a nearby wall. With the toothbrush in one hand and the drink pouch in the other, they squeeze a small bead of water from the pouch while simultaneously gliding their toothbrush over it. The toothbrush will instantly suck up the water. Then, the astronaut takes their toothpaste and repeats the same process. They will brush their teeth like usual! Once they are done, all they have to do is squeeze some water over their brush and wipe it off with a towel to clean it. Then they can pack up their things and get on with their day.

The key difference between brushing your teeth in space and on Earth is that astronauts don’t have the luxury of doing so over a sink, which makes spitting difficult. Instead of spitting, they just have to take a couple sips of water from their drink bag and—you guessed it—swallow their toothpaste! That certainly must take some getting used to.

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Whether you’re in space or down here on Earth, brushing your teeth twice a day is one of the best ways to maintain your oral health. And for all of you who aren’t traveling around our galaxy, don’t forget to pop into the dentist for your regular dental check-ups!

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