6 tips for brushing your teeth at Burning Man

tooth brush in cup at burning man

Your mouth has many a function: eating, talking, breathing, kissing … And it can take a beating with the heat, wind, dryness and dust. The inside of your mouth is also a mucous membrane and a potential spot for chemical burns from playa dust.

6 tips for brushing your teeth

People often ask about toothbrushing and what do you do with your spit, which is, essentially, grey water and must be treated as such. As I do not enjoy spitting a mouthful of spent toothpaste into a grey water bin (and I equally doubt anyone wants to look at my toothpaste spit floating on top of some nasty grey water), I do the following:

  1. After brushing my teeth, I spit the toothpaste from my mouth into a paper towel.
  2. I use that paper towel as the first round to clean my toothbrush and get as much toothpaste out of my brush with that paper towel.
  3. Then in a small cup with a little bit of water, I rinse my toothbrush.
  4. Next, holding the paper towel over my trash can, I pour that rinse water onto my paper towel.
  5. Finally, I put the wet paper towel in my trash can and the dry desert air and wind dries the dirty paper towel fairly quickly.
  6. No spitting toothpaste into a 5-gal bucket of grey water filled with food bits and grease for me.

This solution works.

I also use the tea tree oil toothpicks throughout the day, which I find helps keep my mouth feeling fresher in the hot desert sun and cold desert nights.

Bring an extra cup dedicated for toothbrush rinsing

I bring a small cup dedicated to washing and rinsing my toothbrush. I also keep my toothbrush in this cup (inside my personal care bag). You’ll probably want to do the same.

Bring a spare toothbrush

Of course, you will bring a toothbrush, toothpaste and dental floss. Of course. May I suggest that you bring a spare toothbrush, just in case … I once saw a campmate accidentally drop his toothbrush into the ever-so-nasty bucket of grey water from the kitchen. Ewww.

Here are some (oft snarky) tips on brushing your teeth at Burning Man found on the eplaya site.

Tea tree oil toothpicks can be an insta-toothbrush

As an ex-smoker, I love tea tree oil toothpicks and use them often. I especially love them on playa. They function as an instant toothbrush and mouth freshener. Clean your teeth with them, chew the tip to make it splay and use it as a toothbrush on the fly; keep your mouth cleaner with the beneficial agents in tea tree oil. YCNHE of these.

I also like to gift them! They’re one of the easiest things to carry around and one of the more functional and appreciated gifts to give.

Give your salivation a boost

Anything that helps activate salivation is good. Saliva is a precious body fluid! You’ll come to feel/know/experience this with the playa dust and dryness from the wind. Xylitol helps create a cooling sensation in the mouth, which produces saliva and keeps your mouth and throat more hydrated, so hard candies with that ingredient can be helpful Be careful not to use too much xylitol in a given day, as some people get crampy on it.

I usually bring a mix of Ricola cough drops, ginger candies, sour candies and Xylitol candies. They are something to pop in my mouth here and there. Cough drops and candies are not things I consume regularly in the default world, but I always bring them to TTitD.

Lip balm: beware the chemical burn

You Can Never Have Enough (YCNHE)

Go up a notch on your lip balm purchases, go beyond petroleum jelly-based products, get lip balm with sunscreen and get lip balm with natural ingredients. And always carry it with you, day and night.

Now, my lips get an alkaline chemical burn most every year. I was recently told my lips are getting burned because I am essentially sealing the alkaline chemicals onto my lips with the oil from my lip balm. Could be! So this advice about bringing lip balm might be suspect. Alas, I don’t have enough info to know if this is case, though I do have anecdotal evidence that every year my lips get a chemical burn. (If anyone has a better solution for lip care, LMK!).

Here are some teeth-brushing tips on eplaya. (Snark alert.)




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