If you’re like many folks, you’ll be on vacation at some point this summer. If you’re packing for a trip or just making a to-do list, you’ve got a lot to think about: How much SPF should be in your sunscreen? How many pairs of socks do you need to get through the week? And so on. Your dental health may not be top of mind. However, don’t forget your oral hygiene on vacation.
Our Plano, TX dentist has six simple suggestions that will help you keep your oral hygiene on track while you’re traveling. If you have questions about any of his advice or want to make an appointment before your trip, call 1st in Smiles at 972-905-9266.
Get a Pre-Vacation Dental Exam
For peace of mind and so you won’t have to worry about it when you get back, make time for a dental exam and cleaning before your departure. Dr. Rick Barfield will take care of issues like small cavities, so they won’t become bigger problems while you’re on the road. You’ll certainly want to heed this advice if you’re traveling somewhere with limited access to dental care or if you don’t speak the language and could have trouble communicating clearly with a dentist.
If you’ll spend some of your trip in higher altitudes (flying, hiking in the mountains, or scuba diving), let Dr. Barfield know. He’ll make sure denta fillings and other restorations are in good shape. Air can become trapped inside your teeth if restorations are loose or otherwise compromised. Expansion or contraction can cause a condition called barodontalgia or “tooth squeeze.”
Watch What You Consume, Especially the Water
No matter where you are, you should limit your consumption of sugary snacks and highly acidic foods and drinks. This is especially important if you’re traveling a long way in plane or car, since you may be unable to brush your teeth for long stretches of time. Rinse your mouth with water when brushing isn’t possible.
A word about water: If drinking the local supply can make you sick, don’t risk brushing your teeth with it either. Don’t even rinse your mouth with it. Use bottled water instead. If your toothbrush comes into contact with local water, replace it or at least rinse it well with bottled water.
Chew Sugarless Gum for Oral Hygiene on Vacation
Carry sugarless gum with you and chew it after eating to keep your saliva flowing. This simple action helps fight cavities. An especially good choice is gum that contains xylitol, a natural substance that makes your smile more resistant to decay. If you’re driving or flying into higher elevations, chewing gum relieves painful ear pressure too.
Keep Your Tooth Care Supplies Within Reach
One challenge of oral hygiene on vacation is cleaning your teeth in transit. It’s easy to forget to keep oral hygiene supplies where you can easily reach them when needed. If you’re flying, pack a travel-sized toothbrush, toothpaste, and floss in a carry-on bag. When traveling by car, keep these items in your glove compartment.
If you forget to pack a toothbrush, you can always use toothpaste on your finger until you can get another brush. If you wear a nightguard or other mouthguard to stop tooth grinding, to relieve sleep apnea, or for other reasons, make sure you don’t leave it at home.
Properly Store Your Toothbrush
Brushing teeth rids them of bacteria. So you want to keep your toothbrush as free of bacteria as possible for oral hygiene on vacation. Make sure your toothbrush holder has holes for ventilation to keep your brush as dry as possible. Remove your brush as soon as you arrive, and put it where air can circulate around it. Allow it to dry before returning it to your holder.
Don’t Get Rattled in a Dental Emergency
Being prepared for a dental emergency makes it far easier to handle one if it occurs. Put our contact information into your phone. Keep a card in your wallet too, just in case your phone has no power. With the help of supplies in a dental emergency kit, you may be able to wait until your return to resolve your problem.
If your problem needs immediate attention, you can contact your insurance company to help you locate a qualified dentist near you. If you’re in another country, good resources for finding a dentist include the local dental association, the local consulate, or the U.S. embassy.
We hope our tips for oral hygiene on vacation are helpful! Call us at 972-905-9266 if we can assist you in any way with your trip planning.