Having healthy teeth in space is important. And, we’re not talking about the spaces that require braces or Invisalign! Recently, Commander Peggy Whitson, a NASA astronaut, set the U.S. record for the most days spent in space. What a feat! This got us wondering—with so many days spent in zero gravity and no running water, how do they brush their teeth?
Don’t swallow your toothpaste at home.
He makes it look easy, doesn’t he? While we wouldn’t recommend swallowing your toothpaste, notice how he only used a very small amount. Just a small, pea-sized drop of toothpaste is all you need! And, while most of us use more water than necessary at home, resources are very limited in space. There’s no running water, plumbing, garbage collectors, or outlets for our favorite electric toothbrushes! If astronauts can brush their teeth with a floating drop of water, what’s our excuse for not brushing and flossing 2x daily?
Tip: Don’t let the water run while you’re actively brushing your teeth! Turn the faucet off until you’re ready to rinse! Letting the water run for 2 minutes, 2x daily, wastes up to 4 gallons of water per day!
The Force is Strong in Prevention
Routine exams and healthy teeth are important for everyone. They also help prevent emergencies. Loose filling? Dull, on-going toothache? Unfortunately, it’s not uncommon for some of us to ignore these symptoms until we’re in pain, knowing we can call our dentist if it becomes urgent. With missions typically lasting six months, and no dentist on board, having a tooth ache in space would be a nightmare! Upon take-off, the intense force of acceleration and vibrations could cause loose fillings to fall out. With 4x the pressure of their own body weight, astronauts can’t afford to put off preventative dental work, as their teeth could literally crack under pressure!
Tips for Preventing Emergencies:
Brush & Floss 2x Daily.
This may seem redundant, but daily removal of food particles reduces the amount of harmful bacteria—which feed on sugars, creates cavities, leads to gum disease, and causes bad breath!
Begin good dental habits early.
Research has shown that it takes 21 days to create a habit. Start your children off right with routine home care and preventative visits to the dentist. They’ll be more likely keep up the consistent brushing and flossing into adulthood, and have less anxiety about going to the dentist. And, if they want to be an astronaut when they grow up, they’ll have a head start with healthy teeth!
Healthy teeth are directly connected to a healthy body.
A healthy mouth goes hand-in-hand with a healthy body. The harmful bacteria associated with gum (periodontal) disease is directly related to heart disease. This is why some people must take a preventative antibiotic prior to dental procedures. A nutrient-rich diet, along with good dental care is essential for overall health.
Smiles are universal…
Having healthy teeth is important for everyone, at every age. However, for astronauts, routine dental care is a requirement. If it’s been a while since your last cleaning and check-up, call us. We’ll be happy to see you!