I suppose we knew it would eventually happen. Toothpaste tubes have now been banned from certain flights because they can be used as explosive containers. So what alternatives are available if security bans toothpaste tubes from your flight?
- Buy the toothpaste at your final destination
- Use powder toothpaste (blech)
- Use small bags of baking soda combined with salt (not too bad)
- Use pre-loaded disposable toothbrushes (expensive, heavy, and bulky – especially for a multi-week trip)
- Bring toothpaste dots
I vote for toothpaste dots because security considers them solids. That means you don’t have to put them in your liquids bag. The dots give you an almost normal experience when cleaning your teeth. They are also small, light, and don’t leak. Pop one in your mouth, chew it up like gum, and brush away. You don’t even need water. Several companies now sell toothpaste dots (also known as toothpaste tabs). I prefer to make my own. It’s really quite easy:
Step 1 – Select the right toothpaste
Not all toothpaste is created equal when it comes to toothpaste dots. Some of the newer toothpaste gels never seem to dry out, making them unacceptable for DIY dots. I have found that the older “classic” toothpaste dries out better than the gels. Experiment with your toothpaste by placing a few dots on a small piece of aluminum foil. Allow it to dry for a few days and test the consistency. The toothpaste should dry out to the consistency of a piece of soft chewing gum.
Step 2 – Select a drying method
I know of 3 different drying methods for toothpaste dots:
- Air dry – This takes the longest, especially if the atmosphere has a high humidity level.
- Dehydrator- This is the quickest and most consistent method. Don’t dry your dots with another food unless you want that item to pick up a toothpaste taste.
- Poor man’s dehydrator. Place your dots on a baking sheet and place it on the dashboard of your automobile. A few days in the sun works wonders. It will also give your car a minty fresh smell.
Step 3 – Squirt dots onto a piece of aluminum foil or waxed paper
When I first stated making my dots I carefully tried to squirt just enough toothpaste on to the foil so I would have just the right amount in each dot. This took a lot of time to get right. I had a very difficult time controlling the amount of toothpaste as I squeezed it out. After some research I realized that I could squirt toothpaste into long lines or “logs” as though I were loading up my toothbrush. I could chop the logs up to the right size after they had dried out. Not only were the logs quicker to make, but I could control the thickness of the paste too.
Step 4 – Fold the “log” in half about 3/4 of the way through the drying process
I found that the logs I created with the toothpaste were a bit on the thin side. I fixed this by folding them in half when they were partly dry. The undersides of the logs were still sticky so I could “glue” the two sides together. Continue drying the dots / logs until they are the consistency of chewing gum.
Step 5 – Chop the logs up to size and coat them with baking powder
Slice the logs up to “dot” size once they have dried out. Each person knows how much toothpaste they like, so cut as you see fit. My dots are the size of an average pea. Coat each dot in baking powder. This will keep the dots from sticking to each other while they are in storage.
Step 6 – Place the dots in a small storage container
Once I have coated my dots in baking powder, I store them in a small pill container or zip-lock. I usually count out around 20 per bag, and use one bag per week. I store 2-3 bags in my toilet kit, one for each week.
Step 7 – Brush away!
Toothpaste dots are easy to use. Pop one in your mouth and chew it up like gum. Try to chew up any of the larger chunks of toothpaste. Insert your toothbrush and brush away. I found that dots foam up more than regular toothpaste, especially if I use extra water. I don’t mind too much – the important thing is to get clean teeth without gagging.
DIY toothpaste dots are quick and easy. They are a great lightweight alternative to liquid toothpaste. While I still prefer regular toothpaste if I can get it, these dots are great for light travel.
Edit: Sept 28 2016 – Clarified that toothpaste dots should be pea sized as there was confusion on the size.