How Astronauts Maintain Healthy Smiles While in Space

How Astronauts Maintain Healthy Smiles While in Space

Dec 14, 2020

One of the most mind-boggling things we have experienced in the past century is how NASA has made it possible for a man to explore outer space. However, what is even more fascinating is how astronauts take care of themselves while they are in space. Have you ever wondered how they take showers or brush teeth in space? We cannot dare even to imagine how it would feel like to operate in zero gravity.

For instance, showers aren’t the same. In fact, NASA’s astronauts don’t take showers as we do; they take sponge baths in specialized portals. Also, going to the bathroom requires high-tech systems to keep them healthy.

However, for the most part, oral hygiene in space isn’t so different from what we do on earth. Dental hygiene in space still has to be maintained for astronauts to come back home with healthy smiles. This is why before astronauts go to space, it is best for them to visit our dental clinic near NASA.

Understanding Oral Hygiene in Space

Clean teeth for astronauts go beyond what most people think. Astronauts’ dental requirements are a bit stricter than what you would imagine. Space missions are dependent on them to be healthy during the time they’ll be in space.

When in space, bone density decreases due to loss of calcium. This would mean that your teeth will become weak over time. Therefore, if you have poor oral hygiene, you are at a higher risk of getting cavities.

Also, when rockets are leaving the earth, the thrust causes the rocket to vibrate. These vibrations are quite strong. In other words, the body has to withstand a force up to four times your own body weight. This means that if you have ill-fitting fillings, they can become loose or, even worse, fallout.

At the same time, there is a change in the atmospheric pressure, which can cause you to feel pain if you have dental cavities. This is the same feeling you get as when you are in a plane, only this time you feel a fraction of what an astronaut feels every time they leave earth.

In fact, the change in atmospheric pressure is so strong that if you have spaces, tiny gaps, erosions, or even holes can cause you to feel immense pain. This is why oral health for astronauts should be a top priority when aboard their orbiting laboratories. Good oral health would mean that you have sturdy teeth and healthy gums, making them more shock absorbent.

How Astronauts Brush

One thing that you should know is that brushing in space is definitely different. One significant difference is gravity. When you are fighting gravity, even the most straightforward task may become extremely challenging to accomplish.

For instance, something as simple as a toothpaste cap could float away. Also, you cannot expect water to trickle down a faucet as you are used to. Instead, it will form droplets that will float in your spacecraft. Another challenging thing would be to spit after you have finished brushing. These are factors that astronauts in NASA have to consider before they undertake their journey.

However, our dentist at our dental clinic near NASA has the following explanation on how to brush teeth in space:

  • First, the drink bag is filled with water. Then the astronaut goes with it to the hygiene area and tucks it behind a bungee.
  • The astronaut proceeds to remove the hygiene kit to get to the toothbrush and toothpaste. Then, the astronaut attaches the toothpaste tube to the wall using a Velcro drop.
  • Afterward, the straw clamp on your drink bag is opened, and a bead of water is squeezed out of the bag onto the toothbrush.
  • Foamless toothpaste is applied.
  • The astronaut uses the same brushing techniques as the rest of us. The only difference is that they do not spit but swish and swallow.

Since there are no sinks or faucets in the spacecraft, NASA developed foamless toothpaste. This has enabled astronauts to swallow the toothpaste since it is ingestible. Another huge plus is that you don’t have to worry about losing toothpaste caps.

All in all, be it outer space or on earth, oral hygiene is paramount. If you would like to maintain your oral health, call our dental clinic near NASA, Rosas Family Dentistry, to schedule an appointment for dental care.

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