View Full Version : tooth hygiene options

2003-01-09, 19:23
Powder, Paste, short brush , long brush, wait till town ...... etc

2003-01-09, 21:36
I can't say that I've ever completed a thru-hike before. But, if I have to start cutting my toothbrush down to save a fraction of an ounce, it seems to me that I'm cutting it a little too close on the weight threshold.

2003-01-09, 21:36
Why did my reply post 3 times? My comment wasn't that insightful! :D

2003-01-09, 21:46
Don't worry that happens sometimes, taken care of. :)


2003-01-09, 21:48
Thanks for fixing it.

2003-01-09, 21:52
I use a cut off tooth brush ...and brush my teeth with doc bronner's peppermint soap..same soap that i take a bath with and to shampoo what little hair I have..this way i have less to keep up with..just one small bottle does it all...you can even use it to wash out your clothes..nice peppermint scent and flavor,,remember to hang it up in your food bag.

if you use a bounce box you can keep a big bottle of doc bronners in there to refill but the little two ounce bottle that you can buy will last a long time..

2003-01-09, 23:53
Brushing is great morning and night. Found that Arm & Hammer and AquaFresh make a tooth cleaning gum. Bought some and been testing it on hikes. Definitely gets stuff out of your teeth but what I like the most is that it keeps your mouth from drying out.
Think I may just have to grab me some more before I head out :D

Wander Yonder
2003-01-10, 00:37
Years ago you could buy mint flavored tooth powder. Haven't seen it in decades. Does anyone know if they make it any more?

Also, I'm curious about the peppermint soap. Everything I've read say that bears like the smell of cosmetics, soaps, etc. and that everything like that should be bear bagged. I don't think I would want to smell of peppermint when I was in my sleeping bag!

I use non scented camp soap for shampoo, bathing, and dishes. Not teeth, though! :D

2003-01-10, 01:28
good point...I've been using doc bronner's peppermint for years hiked all over the smokies...I rarely even see a bear...probably not a good idea in grizzley country but these black bears are pretty shy until someone starts feeding them

Wander Yonder
2003-01-10, 01:48
Thanks for the feedback.

I have wondered if you wash your dishes well if they really needed to be bearbagged. I tend to think not. Your experience with the peppermint soap kind of confirms my thinking about it.

Of course, if I were camping near a high use shelter with a lot of bear activity, I would probably err on the side of caution.

2003-01-10, 10:10
SGT.Rock mentions mint soap in his HQ articles. His arguement is that mint is a naturaly occuring plant that is not in the bears diet. I'm don't know if any of the "mini bears" are interested in it.

2003-01-10, 10:16
Have there been any bear attacks on the AT in recent years? I guess it's smart to be cautious, but I wonder how serious the risk really is...

2003-01-10, 11:05
Washing dishes ..

I don't use any soap to wash dishes...I finishing eating and then have a cup of hot tea...I pour a little hot tea in the eating pot and use the spoon to scrape around and get all the food particles off the pot and then I drink it and just wipe the pot out with a piece of paper towel or handi wipe.

2003-01-10, 11:17
may of 2000 there was a bear attack in the Smokies..not on the AT but on a hiker near Elkmont...the hiker was a school teacher from nearby cosby Tn..she was day hiking with her EX-husband..the ex-husband a fisherman left her resting beside the side of the trail with the daypack while he went ahead to do some fishing ..when he came back the bears( feamale with cubs) had dragged the lady off the trail and was eating her... the man shouted and other hikers came along and shouted and threw rocks and the bears refused to leave ..some other hikers ran for rangers who came and shot the bears repeatly with the service revolvers and killed the bears... autopsy of the bear proved tht they had eaten the hiker flesh...these folks had done a lot of hiking not the first time they had been out...of corse there is speculation about the Ex-husbands role..but a court inquiry found him innocent of an foul-play...also the day pack that was sitting beside the lady was untouched by the bears...

2003-01-10, 15:45
Here is the story:



Wander Yonder
2003-01-10, 15:56
I had followed that story, smokeymtnsteve.

As long as bears are leery of humans and keep their distance, there is not much danger.

My feeling is that a bear who has lost his fear of humans is a potentially dangerous predator. Thank goodness that they just want our food at this point.

In the wild, animals are either predator or prey. We don't like to admit that, but if bears ever figure out that humans are easy prey, they will be after more than our food packs.

That isn't popular or PC thinking, but as the bears continue to lose their fear of man and realize that we pose no threat to them, I think they will get more aggressive.

2003-01-10, 16:17
Great link to the bear story in the smokies this happened while I was doing a 2 week volunteer stint as caretaker of Ice h2o shelter (3miles north of newfound gap) followed the story over park radio...and the park service gave me an apartment for my days off which was located in Elkmont lots of excitment in the area ....but I was at the ice h20 area when the attack occured but I remember it well

2003-01-10, 18:55
Sharon I agree...even though black bears are not "hunters"

black bear diet consist mainly of plant material...during berry season you see bear scat that is composed of mainly berry seed..
in the fall and winter bears depend on the MAST crop of acorns and other nuts and seeds..also bears will dig for grubs.

the mast crop of acorns are vital too black bears..if the acorn crop fails then the female bears do not gain enough body fat stores even though she has breed earlier the cub will spontaneously abort...the mast crop is a reliable predictor of black bear populations

bears usually dont eat fresh meat they prefer to hide a kill and go back to it after it ripens and gets soft

some years back in the smokies a young man had come up to florida he meet some locals and the local guys agreeded to go fishing with the guy and, show him the best fishing hole in the smokies ..so this young man from florida and the locals got in the floridas guy car and headed up to walker camp prong, a branch of the headwaters of the pigeon river that originates near the AT and the turn off withthe boulevard trail which is just south of Ice h2o shelter...well these local guys took florida into the woods and off trail down the creek. then they knocked him in the head with a rock and robbed him and then took off in his car...the
police eventually found them and recovered the car the young man from florida though had not been found they asked the locals did they kill him they denied that and took the police to the area where they had hit the floridan in the head ..he was not there...see they said ' we didn't kill him' we left him right here..

after looking around under some logs the bones where found where a bear had dragged the boys body to hide the meat to ripen and get soft and yummy (from the bears point of view) and then come back to eat him...

bears as a rule don't hunt and eat any fresh flesh...black bears that is.

you have much more to fear from humans than bears..even ratllesnakes can be nicer than some folks ....

Wander Yonder
2003-01-10, 21:16
Smokeymtnsteve, it IS good that our eastern bears are more interested in berries, acorns and carrion (and our food) than us. I honestly don't know if I would hike in an area where there were grizzlies. I certainly wouldn't solo.

Since my AT hike will be solo, my real concerns are road crossings and shelters. I will probably feel safer camping off trail in some areas.

This has been a fun conversation... doncha love thread drift! :D

2004-08-24, 22:27
Last year I went to a local health store (Lori's) and asked for a safe, mild soap for general use. They said to try Dr. Bonner's Magic Soaps. I did, and I was very pleased with the result. So, yes, while hiking you can carry a fine castile liquid soap for general cleaning that is biodegradeable, and even use it to clean your teeth. Better for you, better for the environment. Not expensive, either. You can even use a few drops to brush your teeth with it! http://www.drbronner.com/FAQ.html It comes in several flavors, including peppermint, tea tree, and lavender. I tried it and it works very well.

SGT Rock
2004-08-25, 06:37
I tried brushing my teeth with it, I did not like the experience.

2004-08-25, 11:40
Since tooth problems are a common cause of medical side trips, seems to me that the fraction of an ounce saved by cutting an inch or two off a toothbrush handle is fool's gold. As far as choice of toothpaste,etc. goes, it's mostly for the flavor and the flouride - your results are almost as good with nothing but a wet brush, so if you want to save weight on tooth care, that's where you can safely cut. And don't forget the floss, just as important as brushing, and serves multiple purposes. I'm experimenting now with the new oral-b finger glove type brush substitutes. Great for refreshing, but I'll check with my dentist (Dad) to see if they are an acceptable long-term brush replacement. :biggrin:

SGT Rock
2004-08-25, 12:57
I have cut my toothbrush - but it is still long enough to reach the back teeth. The main reason I trimmed the hadel so was so it could fit in this small, durable, zip-lock style bag I use to store it and the tooth paste in. I have had the same bag for 7 years, but the tooth brush keeps getting replaced.

2004-09-01, 04:31
Rather than cutting down your toothbrush, try cutting out toothpaste and use salt instead. I try an adhere to an Inuit principle that every thing I carry should have more than one use, thereby cutting out duplication and weight.

Boosts sodium which you'll lose through sweat, and salt has more uses than just cooking.

2004-09-06, 12:50
Concerning toothbrushes--I saw two at my local REI during Labor Day Sale week that might be of interest, although they were not on sale.

The Clever Toothbrush ($3.95). The toothpaste fits right in the handle and a twist of the dial brings it to the brush. You can fill it at home with up to about a months worth of your normal toothpaste. It has a nice plastic cover for the brush part. I bought one of these --it is well made and has worked fine at home for the last week. Maybe a little heavy for the trail, although you woudn't have to carry a separate tube of toothpaste.

Securitas Ultra-light Toothbrush ($1.95)(the finger brush that was mentioned before). This one is really interesting because it has no handle at all and fits on the end of your finger. It was designed for prison use where inmates have a habit of sharpening the handles of toothbrushes and using them as weapons. I can confirm this really used to happen because when I was a kid my uncle Eddie, who was a prison guard (Correctional Officer) , loved to tell the story of a prisoner who got it in the back with a toothbrush while watching a movie. Anyway, I didn't buy one of these so I have no first hand information, but it seems to me that in order to brush your teeth with this thing a person would have to stick at least part of their finger in their mouth. Somehow the thought of my finger in my mouth does not appeal to me, but ultra-light fanatics might be interested.

Go to www.rei.com and search for "toothbrush" to see these items. Happy Labor Day! :captain:

2004-09-08, 21:06
Regular household baking soda works well for a toothpaste alternative and can serve as deodorant and foot powder. Baking soda (sodium bicarbonate) is caustic and therefore prohibits bacterial growth. It has worked well for me in controlling malodor while whitening my teeth.

2004-09-12, 00:21
Regular household baking soda works well for a toothpaste alternative and can serve as deodorant and foot powder. Baking soda (sodium bicarbonate) is caustic and therefore prohibits bacterial growth. It has worked well for me in controlling malodor while whitening my teeth.

And you can mix it with a little enzime type meat tenderizer to controll insect bites and stings (works for my boy and I), reduces swelling and dumps the ouch to a tollerable level.

2005-07-27, 10:12
Baking soda works ok if you live in an area that has flouride in the water. The clever tooth brush is great, tooth paste, tooth brush and tooth brush case all in one. I like ACT flouride rinse at home, (I'm a believer in flouride), because when it's empty I can use the bottle to carry my everclear, it dispenses fluid 10ml at a time.

If you're a soap opera star or something and your teeth are really important to you, I've heard that using a hydrogen peroxide containing mouth rinse in addition to flouride and brushing is good.

2005-07-27, 14:32
To make a toothbrush and make tea, grab a short but THICK twig of newer growth off a Yellow Birch, and a smaller twig and needles off a White Cedar (or some similar tree see below). Strip the needle and bark off the evergreen twig and put it in a cup to boil. Strip the leaves and some bark off the hardwood twig and throw those in also. Boil and simmer until it turns brown. While this is going on chew your hardwood stick into a toothbrush, and scratch yourself here and there in a primate posture. You can also stir the tea with your stick as you clean your teeth. Cedar is a good tooth brush all year round, but usually the hardwoods are better. Spruce needle and pine needles are best in spring. Cedar needles and bark is always good. When you finish cleaning your teeth you can finish drinking your tea. Don't put too much thought into all of this. Your thoughts should be elsewhere, preferable deep into the lost and forgotten past of your tribal knowledge. When you suddenly realize you are back in the 21st century, give yourself a shake and reluctantly get on with your life.

Alder, Aspen, Birch, Slippery Elm, Poplar, Willow
(Yellow Birch and Black Birch is best and has a wintergreen flavour we naturally associate with teeth cleaning. Willow is particularly good for toothache and headache.)

Eastern Cedar, Spruce, White Pine

Apple, Ash, Basswood, Beech, Elder, Hawthorn, Holly, Linden, Maple, Oak, Rowan (Mountain Ash), Walnut
(Some of these might be too strong to use everyday.)

Chewing one stick is meant to be a safe small dose. Tea would be a little stonger. For everyday use it is best to make weak tea and stick with the trees you know.