Undoubtedly, one of the most common items to bring along on your travels is toothpaste.
While many hotels will supply you with toothpaste it is not always guaranteed and many times you might receive subpar quality toothpaste.
And unless you are flying first class or business class, chances are you won’t be issued toothpaste during your flight.
So in order to keep your teeth fresh and clean, you’ll probably think about bringing toothpaste with you on a plane.
In this article, I will answer the question of whether or not you can bring toothpaste on the plane and what TSA rules and size limits might apply.
I will also give you a refresher on the liquids rule and provide some clarity about the difference between liquid ounces and solid ounces.
Can you bring toothpaste on a plane?
Yes, you are allowed to bring toothpaste through TSA airport security and onto the plane that you are boarding.
However, when bringing toothpaste as a carry-on it will be subject to the 3-1-1 liquids rule and so you’ll have to abide by those size requirements.
These size limits can get a little bit tricky for toothpaste because of the difference between volume and weight that is used on packaging.
But we will clear this up in this article.
Keep reading below for more details on how to bring toothpaste on a plane!
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TSA Toothpaste Rules & Size Limits
Bringing toothpaste as a carry-on
If you are attempting to bring toothpaste as a carry on then you will need to get your toothpaste through a TSA security checkpoint.
This means dealing with the TSA liquids rule.
The TSA Liquids 3-1-1 Rule states that you can only bring liquids in containers no larger than 3.4 ounces (100 milliliters) and that all of your liquid containers must fit “comfortably” into one clear, quart-size bag.
(When going through the checkpoint, you’ll have to remove your quart-size bag from your luggage unless you have TSA Pre-Check.)
TSA has a pretty broad definition of what is considered a liquid.
Any types of creams, gels, lotions, etc., are all considered liquids.
Basically anything that is usually poured, scooped, squeezed, slurped, or mashed will be considered a liquid for TSA purposes.
So TSA will definitely consider your toothpaste a liquid.
(Note: there are some solid tablets you can use to brush your teeth that wouldn’t be subject to the liquids rule, but I am just going to assume that most people are going to use normal toothpaste.)
This means that if you want to bring toothpaste on a plane it needs to be in a 3.4 ounce container and if you have multiple liquid containers they need to fit “comfortably” inside of a quart size bag.
Comfortably just means that the seams are not bursting on your bag. So if you have toothpaste inside of a bag that cannot be zipped shut then that would not pass the standard.
The key thing to note here is that your containers can only be up to 3.4 ounces (100 ml).
The rule does not care about how much substance is inside the container.
So, for example, if you had a six ounce package of toothpaste but it only had one ounce of toothpaste inside it that would still not comply with TSA.
Volume or weight?
The fact that the TSA 3-1-1 rule is focused on liquids and uses milliliters means that they are focused on volume (ml) and not weight (grams).
This gets a bit tricky because a toothpaste package will often list ounces in weight and not volume.
To clear up the confusion, you can use a formula that factors in the density of toothpaste (which should be about 1.3 g/ml).
This would mean that your toothpaste weight in grams (which is usually the measurement shown on the label) would need to be ~130g or less. (130g equals 100 ml for toothpaste.)
But 130g also equals 4.58 (weight) ounces.
This means that you could argue that a filled container with 4.58 ounces of toothpaste or under should be allowed through TSA security. (Packaging can add a little bit of weight.)
Your argument is basically that the toothpaste squeeze bottle is a container of 100 ml of “liquid.”
The problem with that is you would have to bet on a TSA agent: 1) accepting your conversions and 2) appreciating the differences between mass and volume.
When taking all your belongings through a busy security checkpoint, it’s not exactly the ideal time for a lecture on these things….
Therefore, I would recommend for you to treat liquid ounces and weight ounces the same so that you can avoid issues in security.
Sometimes you can find a toothpaste brand that sells toothpaste right at 3.4 ounces like the Sensodyne pictured above.
But a standard package of toothpaste (Colgate, Crest, etc.) will be around 4.2 (weight) ounces and a lot of them are even larger.
Here are some standard package sizes for toothpaste brands:
- Colgate – 4.2oz (119g)
- Crest – 4.1oz (116g)
- Sensodyne – 3.4oz (96.4)
- Aquafresh – 5.6oz (158.7g)
- Aim – 5.5oz (156g)
- Arm & Hammer – 6.0oz (170g)
This means that you may not be able to bring a standard package of toothpaste through TSA security unless the agent understands the difference between mass and volume.
Instead, to make life easier you may need to purchase the smaller travel packs of toothpaste.
You can find these packages in various grocery stores, drugstores, and also online. Many of these travel size packages are under 1 ounce so you should have plenty of clearance.
Also, you might consider buying an entire package of TSA-approved toiletries. In one package you can find things like toothpaste, mouthwash, deodorant, razors, combs, etc.. Many of these are gender specific.
If you are bringing your toothpaste through in your checked baggage, you don’t have to comply with the liquids rule size requirements.
For example, if you wanted to bring a large pack full of five ounce containers of toothpaste that would be totally fine.
Tip: If you were bringing toothpaste that has already been opened you might consider bagging that package up so that it does not spill or squirt out. There is nothing worse than trying to get toothpaste out of your garments….
Many travelers have written about how some toothpaste does not show up on standard x-ray machines.
Because of this, some travelers choose to hide their large toothpaste packages inside their bag and get it through security.
Personally, I would not do this.
First, TSA is moving to a different type of x-ray scanner that I’m guessing will be able to detect toothpaste.
Second, I think it is just a bad idea to try to smuggle toothpaste when there are so many cheap and easy alternatives.
If you get caught, it is only going to slow down your travels and also slowdown the travels for other people. Plus, you will be without toothpaste.
So my advice would be to just buy some at the store.
You can bring your toothbrushes including electric toothbrushes through security without any problems. Floss is allowed as well.
If you are attempting to bring mouthwash through the airport security be sure that it complies with the liquid 3.4 ounce rule.
Just like toothpaste, there are a lot of stores that sell travel-sized mouthwash.
You might also be curious about other toiletry items….
For example, many people wonder whether or not they can bring disposable razors through security. The answer to this question is yes, you are allowed to bring disposable razors through. You can read more about other sharp objects like knives here.
Also, if you are wondering about medication there are specific rules and exceptions that apply. For example, you will not have to comply with the liquids rule when bringing in many medications. To find out more about bringing medications through TSA security and through planes click here.
Other posts you might be interested in:
- Can I bring deodorant on the plane?
- Can I bring alcohol on a plane?
- Can I bring food on a plane?
- Can I Bring Makeup on a Plane?
Yes, TSA will consider your toothpaste a liquid and it will be subject to the liquids rule when you bring it on as a carry-on item.
Yes, you can brush your teeth on a plane but be sure to do it in a lavatory.
As you can see, the rules are pretty clear that you are allowed to bring toothpaste onto a plane through TSA.
However, if you are bringing your toothpaste as a carry on then you will need to comply with the liquids 3-1-1 rule. This is very easy to do considering how easy it is to find toothpaste packages that are under 3.4 ounces. And finally, if you are bringing toothpaste through with your checked baggage you don’t have to worry about the size requirements.
Daniel Gillaspia is the Founder of UponArriving.com and creator of the credit card app, WalletFlo. He is a former attorney turned full-time travel expert covering destinations along with TSA, airline, and hotel policies. Since 2014, his content has been featured in major publications such as National Geographic, Smithsonian Magazine, Forbes, CNBC, US News, and Business Insider. Find his full bio here.