It's happened to all of us at one time or another. You've just finished lunch and remember you have a meeting that afternoon or perhaps a date with a friend after work. You want to look and feel your best, but you don’t have a toothbrush.

What can you do?

How to clean your teeth without brushing

You know that healthy teeth and gums require regular brushing and flossing. But in a pinch, here are a few things you can try:

Eat crunchy vegetables

Gnaw on some fresh celery, carrots, broccoli or cucumbers. These foods can help scrape plaque from your teeth, removing some of the odor-causing bacteria.1 Plus, fresh veggies are good foods for teeth.

Nibble some cheese

Cheese is a saliva maker. The calcium in cheese, and the calcium and phosphates in milk and other dairy products, help put back minerals your teeth might have lost due to other foods. They also help rebuild tooth enamel.2

Use mouthwash

If you happen to have some mouthwash handy, you can use it to help freshen your mouth. Just don't use it any longer than recommended because the chemicals may dry out your mouth, which can cause bad breath.3

Chew sugarless gum

Sugarless chewing gum can help in 2 ways: it can loosen food particles stuck between your teeth; and it helps produce more saliva, which is what your mouth uses to naturally wash away bacteria.4

Avoid sugar

You already know that sugar of any kind, whether in candy, soda or desserts, is not good for your teeth. Sugar feeds the bacteria in your mouth and can also create bad breath. If you want to keep your breath fresh, don't eat or drink anything sugary.5

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  1. “Eats fruits and veggies for a healthy smile,” University of Illinois Chicago College of Dentistry, last accessed October 3, 2019,, opens new window.
  2. “The best and worst foods for your teeth,” University of Rochester Medical Center, last accessed October 3, 2019,, opens new window.
  3. “Oral health topics,” American Dental Association, last accessed October 3, 2019,, opens new window.
  4. “Chewing gum,” American Dental Assocation, last accessed October 3, 2019,, opens new window.
  5. “Foods low in sugar are better for your teeth,” Colgate, last accessed October 3, 2019,, opens new window.

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