Traveling is exciting — you get to visit a different place, try new foods, and go on adventures — but with all the planning you put into your trip, one thing you shouldn’t forget to pay attention to is your oral care. Whether you’re traveling across town or abroad, for business or for pleasure, you should follow some basic precautions to promote good oral health for yourself.
Schedule a Cleaning/Checkup Before the Trip
Make an appointment with your dentist for a cleaning/checkup before you travel. Going on vacation with a small cavity lingering in your tooth could result in further decay, at which point you may experience intense tooth pain on your otherwise enjoyable trip. A quick cleaning and checkup at the dentist will identify any cavities or other oral problems, giving you the peace of mind knowing that your mouth is healthy and ready for the trip.
Bring the Right Toothbrush and Toothpaste
Don’t forget to pack your toothbrush and toothpaste when traveling. A proper toothbrush should have a small head and soft bristles, allowing you to reach the back molars without causing irritation to your gums. Toothbrushes with stiff bristles may actually work against you by irritating the gums and causing them to recede. Soft-bristle toothbrushes, on the other hand, are gentle and typically do not irritate the gums.
It’s also recommended that you choose a toothbrush and toothpaste with the American Dental Association (ADA) seal. The ADA has high standards regarding which products are allowed to display its seal. This seal signifies the toothbrush or toothpaste has met or exceeded these standards.
For some, travel-sized oral hygiene items may make maintaining oral health easier. The more compact your items are, the more likely you are to keep them handy — and use them! Opt for smaller or foldable toothbrushes, mini toothpaste tubes, and small bottles of mouthwash.
Store Your Toothbrush Properly
You’ll likely just slip your toothbrush into your toiletries bag when packing, but how clean is the inside of that bag? Before you pack, clean your toiletries bag well and disinfect it. If you’re using a toothbrush case or cover, make sure to disinfect that as well.
Cases and covers can keep the bristles from touching items that could transfer bacteria, but it’s best to let your brush air dry before packing it away. When your brush stays wet, the moisture will help feed bacteria. Since letting your toothbrush dry out before packing it is not always possible, make sure to unpack your toothbrush as soon as you arrive, clean it, then leave it in an airy spot to dry.
Know Whether You Can Trust the Water
When you’re accustomed to clean drinking water on tap, it is easy to forget that even brushing your teeth or rinsing your toothbrush with contaminated water could make you ill. Wherever you are, look into the local water quality — if you need to drink bottled water, be sure to brush your teeth and rinse your toothbrush with bottled water as well.
Stick to Your Oral Care Routine
Just because you’re on vacation, that doesn’t mean plaque and harmful bacteria are! Keep brushing your teeth twice a day and don’t skip out on regular flossing. Sticking with your normal oral health routine will help keep your teeth cavity-free.
Mind Those Sugary Treats
When on vacation, you may feel like spoiling yourself with foods you don’t usually eat, and if you’re traveling overseas, you’ll be eager to try local sweets and desserts. By all means, enjoy your culinary vacation! Just try to limit yourself to one or two treats a day.
Fend Off Bacteria
Keep your mouth as clean as possible by chewing sugar-free gum or sucking on xylitol mints after eating. Green tea can also protect your teeth, so drink up!
Find Dentists Covered by Your Insurance
If you plan on staying away from home for a prolonged length of time, it’s a good idea to check the list of eligible dentists with your dental insurance provider. In the event of a dental emergency, you’ll obviously want to choose a dentist covered by your insurance; otherwise, you could be responsible for paying it out-of-pocket. A phone call to your employer or insurer should reveal which dentists are covered under your insurance.
You can also ask your dentist! If you have any questions about best oral care practices, insurance, or anything else related to the health of your mouth and teeth, call one of our dentists at Little Rock Family Dental Care at 501-708-4509 or request an appointment online. We’d love to help!