Brushing teeth in space is one of the most challenging routines for astronauts in the early space era. However, after a series of experiments, astronauts can now confidently brush their teeth in the weightless environment of space. Currently, we have astronauts aboard the International Space Stations and Tiangong space stations. These astronauts adopt the widely adopted means of cleaning teeth in the microgravity of the space stations. But how do astronauts brush their teeth in space? Continue reading to find out.
How do astronauts brush their teeth in space?
We cannot tell how to brush our teeth in space without traveling to the weightless environment of the cosmos to experiment practically. During one of many demonstrations, Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield showed how astronauts brush their teeth in space. According to Chris, astronauts brush their teeth following these procedures. Firstly, the astronaut will fill the water bag with water to avoid moisture floating everywhere within the space station.
The astronaut will pop out a ball of water and fill it on the brush to make the toothbrush wet. After this step, the astronaut will proceed to pop out the water placed on the toothbrush to prevent it from floating away. Chris revealed that astronauts use standard toothpaste in space. Once the brush is wet, the astronaut will slowly apply the toothpaste onto the wet toothbrush.
On Earth, you can apply any amount of toothpaste to your toothbrush. But astronauts in space apply only a small amount of paste to make it easier to clean off. After this step, the astronaut will proceed to brush his or her teeth just like we normally do on Earth. Chris reveals that astronauts brush their teeth for the period of time they can use to sing a happy birthday. So after brushing the teeth, the astronaut will have a mouth full of toothpaste waste.
But unlike Earth where you spit out the dirty particles from your teeth, astronauts in space will swallow the toothpaste. Since the standard toothpaste used in space is made to be edible, it will not cause any harm to the astronauts. The astronauts will add a small amount of water to their mouths to rinse the remaining particles before swallowing them again.
In the final stage, the astronaut will also rinse the toothbrush on his or her mouth to avoid waste particles floating around the space station. After this final stage, the astronaut will relatively have a clean toothbrush to use later.
Why Astronauts don’t brush their teeth in space the way they do on Earth
Space stations are built with electrical and mechanical materials which can become faulty with contaminated water or dust. Hence, to ensure that astronauts are safe aboard the space stations, no luxury sink is installed aboard the orbiting laboratory. Instead, astronauts swallow their toothpaste to ensure that the wastewater does not fly around the station.
Future of brushing teeth in space
Currently, brushing teeth in space appears quite different from brushing teeth on Earth because of the microgravity in space. However, with the invention of artificial gravity aboard space stations in the future, astronauts will adjust several of their routines including how they brush their teeth in the weightless environment of space.
As the world embraces the era of artificial gravity space stations in the future, more people will fill comfortable traveling to the weightless environment of space to gain another experience of life. In future space stations with artificial gravity, astronauts and space tourists may likely brush their teeth in space the way we do on Earth. This era may likely come before the mid of 21st century.
Brushing teeth in space is becoming less complicated with the era of modern technologies. Space agencies will surely adopt other means of brushing teeth in space once we embrace the era of the artificial gravity space station. When next you hear how do astronauts brush their teeth in space, you should be able to answer something meaningful about this question. What do you think about brushing your teeth in the weightless environment of space?