So bottom line... you don't need ANYTHING but a toothbrush (or a twig) to get rid of PLAQUE, but to get rid of TARTAR, you need toothpaste or its equivalent... charcoal anyone?


If you are going to put twigs in your mouth it is probably a good idea to learn which common ones to avoid...poison ivy/oak being the obvious and fairly ubiquitous one, but Blue Elderberry is another that is common in the West. You can eat the cooked berries but otherwise all parts of the plant are toxic.

Probably even better to learn which ones are safe in the area in which you will travel.

The best of course is to just take a toothbrush and some regular toothpaste and just take care where you expectorate!


LOL! Can you imagine?!

Ya, although identifying poison ivy, poison oak and poison sumac is pretty basic boyscout stuff. Still, The Basic Food Rule sorta still applies, "If you don't know what it is, or how it died, DON'T eat it!" (or stick it in your mouth).


story time!

Backpacking in Dolly Sods Wilderness (WV), a few summers ago, I came across an older gentleman day hiker (older than me anyway, I hope), sitting on a stump, with a 4-5yr old little girl at his side. 

On his lap was a handkerchief  with a small pile of bright red berries, which the little girl was eating.

The gentleman asked me if the berries are poisonous (alarm, alarm!!??),

I replied, well....looks like you're going to find out in a few hours!

I was thinking, sad situation, but a rare hilarious comeback.

REI Member Since 1979

OMG! Sad if true!! Then again, I wouldn't be surprised.


Great article, @Philreedshikes ! I didn't even consider that as an option! Definitely leave no trace when you just use water!

"...On the interwebs, so it must be true" 😂

Thanks for the suggestion!

At REI, we believe a life outdoors is a life well-lived.

+1 for no toothpaste.  

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I have always used a travel size toothpaste and travel tooth brush...can often be bought together and weigh very little. 

For flossing I tend to use things like the "Reach" which is much easier to use than straight floss, and keeps your hands out of your mouth.  One bow can last quite a while if you rinse it and let it dry.

For spitting I either use a hole dug for the purpose, a hole dug for food bits when cleaning the pots, or I clean my teeth before using a cat hole or spit into the campfire ring if there is one a the campsite.  You don't need to use very much toothpaste but in theory spitting around the campsite may attract critters to it so its best to bury it.

I know some make their own "toothpaste" but you have to research that carefully because getting it wrong can damage your teeth.  Personally I have more interesting things to think about.

@OldGuyot  In other words, keep it simple. That's a great suggestion. It's about being outside and the experience, right?

At REI, we believe a life outdoors is a life well-lived.

ECO-DENT toothpowder.  Use it in my day to day life, and it's also perfect for the back country as it's lighter and easier to transfer than paste.

I brush away from camp to avoid attracting critters, and away from any water sources because, eww.  Disposal method could range from moving aside and replacing duff to digging a cat hole, depending on the environment.  Another benefit to tooth powder is that it doesn't create as much froth, and the residue is easily diluted.

Pro-tip (or possibly just disgusting suggestion):  After brushing but before rinsing my toothbrush, I use it to clean my eating utensils.