One thing that warm summer months often mean is more traveling. Nothing beats being able to take some time away to explore, recharge, and disconnect from your normal daily life. But, one routine you should try not to fall out of during this time is properly taking care of your teeth.
No matter if you are staying within the U.S. or going to another country, there are some things that you can do to ensure that you keep your teeth healthy while traveling:
Visit Your Dentist for a Checkup Before You Leave
Establishing a relationship with your dentist is the best way to ensure optimal oral health at all times. This includes when you are preparing to go on a trip. If possible, schedule your next checkup for a couple of weeks before you will be traveling.
Getting a thorough exam done, including x-rays, will provide your dentist the opportunity to catch any issues that may be present before they turn into big problems. You’ll have a little more peace of mind before leaving town and your dentist will also have the latest information on the health of your teeth.
Pack Small Oral Hygiene Tools
When traveling, you are more likely to keep oral hygiene items handy and more likely to use them if they are compact and easy to travel with. So, unless you use an electric toothbrush, pack foldable or mini toothbrushes, travel-sized toothpaste, and travel-sized bottles of mouthwash.
If you’ll be traveling on a long flight, bring these items in your carry-on so you can clean and freshen up your teeth mid-flight or at your layover.
Pack an Extra Toothbrush
Depending on where you are traveling, buying a new toothbrush (that isn’t overly hard-bristled) may not be the easiest thing to do if you forget yours. So make sure to pack an extra toothbrush just in case. The best thing to do is to keep one in your luggage and one in your purse or backpack.
Bring a Pack of Sugar-free Gum
Chewing sugar-free gum serves double duty. It can not only help relieve ear pressure while flying but will also help keep cavities at bay.
Clinical studies have shown that chewing sugar-free gum for 20 minutes after a meal can significantly help prevent cavities and bring pH back up to optimal levels. This is because chewing gum helps generate saliva, which in turn helps wash away plaque-causing bacteria. Make sure it is sugar-free gum and, ideally, look for brands with the ADA Seal of Acceptance.
Transport and Store Your Toothbrush Properly
Letting your toothbrush air dry when not in use is the best way to keep it clean. But that can sometimes be difficult when traveling. In this case, keeping your toothbrush clean and preventing contact with other things is the most important thing.
When you are traveling, use a resealable plastic bag to store your toothbrush in. This will keep it safely protected from other things in your luggage. When you get to your destination, take the toothbrush out and let it air dry as much as possible.
If your toothbrush is wet, try and avoid keeping your toothbrush sealed in a bag or toothbrush holder without ventilation for too long. Doing so can cause bacteria to grow on the brush.
Did You Forgot Your Toothbrush and Don’t Have a Spare?
If you find yourself without a toothbrush temporarily, not all hope is lost for cleaning your teeth. To wash away some of the cavity-causing bacteria you can simply rinse your mouth vigorously with water. You could also put some toothpaste on your clean finger or a clean washcloth and gently rub your teeth. If you do that, make sure to rinse your mouth thoroughly.
When you can get to the nearest drugstore or market, look for a toothbrush that has the ADA Seal (within the U.S.). If there aren’t any ADA-Seal products or you are outside of the country, you want to buy the toothbrush with the softest bristles you can find.
When Water Quality is in Doubt, Use Bottled Water to Brush
If you are traveling in a country where the local water supply is compromised or you’re out in the wilderness without access to clean running water, you should always use bottled water to brush your teeth. Brushing your teeth with contaminated water can cause extreme sickness.
If you accidentally get local water on your toothbrush, throw that brush out and get a new one if possible. If that isn’t possible, use bottled water to thoroughly rinse your brush to reduce the chance of getting sick.
Keep the Sugar to a Minimum
It’s totally normal to want to indulge a little while you’re on vacation. But remember, sugary foods and drinks can cause significant harm by leading to tooth decay. So try and keep the sugar consumption to a minimum to best protect your teeth and gums.
In Case of a Dental Emergency
While traveling, one of the most important things you can do is to keep your dentist’s contact information easily accessible in case of a dental emergency. You may be surprised to learn that many dental emergencies (like toothaches) can be resolved over the phone, especially if you’ve been keeping up with regular visits to your dentist.
Your dentist is there to help in the case of an emergency, remedy the situation from a distance as much as possible, and will be able to tell you if it is something that needs to be treated right away or if it is something that can wait until you return home.
In Case of a Dental Emergency While Abroad
If you are traveling outside of the country and are absolutely in need of a dentist, one of your best bets is to contact the local U.S. consulate or U.S. embassy. The employees there will be able to give you a true independent recommendation based on experience versus a hotel concierge who may be driving business because of a contract or to help a friend/relative.
Jump “Back on the Wagon” After Your Trip
While traveling, it’s not uncommon to let normal brushing and flossing habits slide or indulge in too many sweets. If this has happened, don’t beat yourself up about it. It’s not the downfall of your oral health forever. When you get back home, just make sure to get back into your normal routine of brushing twice daily for two minutes, flossing daily, and using a fluoride mouthwash.
Being Proactive Will Help You Keep Your Teeth in Good Shape While Away
As you can see, many of these tips above center around one common theme—being proactive. By taking the necessary steps ahead of time, you can be prepared to make sure you have everything you need to keep your teeth healthy while traveling.
Here at Radomile Family Dental Care in Drexel Hill, we’re your partner in maintaining optimal dental health. When it comes to your teeth, we can help ensure you are ready to go for your next trip. Have questions about keeping your teeth healthy? Want to schedule an appointment? Contact us today! Our caring team is here to help.