Yesterday I had a dentist appointment, and while I was there I had a revelation in their restroom.
Sitting on the counter was a mug full of disposable, single-use toothbrushes, individually wrapped and pre-loaded with toothpaste.
When I spoke with our dentist, she said that she had gotten the idea from orthodontists, whose patients often come to the office without having had the opportunity to brush their teeth. But I saw quite a different use for them.
One of the most annoying aspects of overseas airplane travel (after the expense, lack of sleep, and forced minimal movement for hours on end) is the difficulty of brushing one's teeth. It's bad enough to have to negotiate the tiny lavatory, hoping the plane doesn't lurch as you attempt to spit into the diminutive sink. But schlepping a travel toothbrush in your carry-on luggage, and toothpaste in the TSA-approved clear, plastic, quart-sized, zip-lock bag, and negotiating their interaction within the confines of the aforementioned lavatory—well, let's just say it's enough to make many people forego dental hygiene on long flights.
Enter the single-use, preloaded toothbrush: Light. Individually wrapped. No hassle from the TSA. Brush and toss. Brilliant.
There's only one problem. You can order these NiceTouch toothbrushes from practicon.com. However, since they expect you to be a dentist, the minimum order is 144. (I so wanted to say "gross!" but that doesn't fit with toothbrushes, unless you drop yours on the lavatory floor while trying to brush your teeth on an airplane.) So either you must plan a lot of travel, or go in with a lot of travelling friends, or have a nice, friendly dentist who will get some for you.
If you succeed, remember this caveat from our own nice, friendly dentist: they really are for one use only. They're not made well enough to stand up under repeated use, and have been know to fall apart in very uncomfortable ways.
I'm looking forward to brushing my teeth on my next trip to Switzerland.