Tis the season for travel! Many of us take advantage of breaks from school and work to travel during the holidays. Whether it’s a trip to Grandma’s house to celebrate or maybe hitting the slopes on a ski vacation—or angling for a white sand Christmas at the beach—the last thing you need is dental problems interfering with your vacation! Here are a few key travel tips for dental health on vacation!
In Case You Forgot…
Why is it always our poor toothbrush that gets forgotten? It’s like the Kevin McCallister of personal care items. As your dental health team, we always recommend packing your toothbrush first. After all, it’s the most important thing to bring on any trip! However, just in case…
If you do happen to forget your toothbrush, don’t despair. Your hotel will more than likely have a reasonable replacement readily available. And if not, the nearest corner store will have some for sale. In the meantime, the old finger-brush can get you through. Just put some toothpaste on a finger and rub it in. Be sure to get all the surfaces! This will at least get some fluoride on your teeth if nothing else. Besides, you still have your floss, right? ….riiiiight?
If, on the other hand, you did manage to remember your toothbrush but forgot toothpaste, it’s okay! You can always brush with water alone. While toothpaste is great for delivering important supplements like fluoride to strengthen your teeth, and adds a little scrubbing power to your brush, it isn’t strictly necessary for removing plaque. Your toothbrush and floss do the heavy lifting when it comes to plaque control.
When you’re packing that toothbrush—which you’re totally 100% doing first like we said, right?—be sure to pack it somewhere it will stay clean and dry. That means don’t just toss it in with your toiletries or makeup! A dirty toothbrush can introduce all kinds of nasty microbes and end up doing more harm than good.
However, you want to avoid packing your toothbrush in a plastic baggie, too. If your toothbrush can’t dry out completely between uses, it will become a breeding ground for bacteria and mildew. Nobody wants a funky-smelling toothbrush.
Fortunately, you can find a whole variety of appropriate options for keeping your toothbrush clean and dry while you travel. From clip-on covers to travel brushes that come with their own ingenious case built right in, there are plenty of great ways to travel smart with your toothbrush!
A few other key items for your travel tooth kit:
- Travel-sized tubes of your favorite toothpaste
- A small pack of flossers or spool of your preferred floss
- Fingertip toothbrushes or touch-up brushes like these for a refresh on long flights
- A pack of sugar-free gum to freshen breath, cleanse your teeth, and soothe nausea from seasickness or airsickness!
Keep an Eye on Your Water Advisories
Many vacation destinations and campsites may have advisories not to drink the water. Usually, this has to do with microbes and parasites that can cause illnesses like the dreaded traveler’s diarrhea. Just remember, these rules apply to brushing, too!
Stay alert to any warnings about water sources at your destination. “Don’t drink the water” means don’t let it get in your mouth, period! Instead, use bottled water to rinse out your mouth after brushing and to rinse your toothbrush, too!
Pack Snacks That Feed Your Belly and Clean Your Teeth!
Travelling is all about the food, isn’t it? Especially around the holidays, our teeth can really get a workout. We’ll never tell you to skip Mom’s special Christmas sugar cookies just to keep your teeth clean. Perish the thought! (Just be sure you brush before bed, and you’ll be fine.)
However, if you’re preparing for a long flight, camping or hiking trip, or other situation where you need snacks on hand, take the opportunity to snack smart! Fibrous and crunchy foods are not only nutritious; they can also help keep your teeth clean and strong. So if you’re preparing a snack pack, focus on things like almonds, apples, and carrot sticks. It may be a surprise, but raisins are actually an amazing snack for healthy teeth! They’re packed with great phytonutrients that actually inhibit bacteria and help to prevent cavities!
Have a Dental Emergency Plan
It never seems to fail that dental emergencies happen at the worst possible time. Having a basic dental emergency plan in place can help you navigate the situation without unnecessary panic so you can keep enjoying your vacation!
First and foremost, if you’re dealing with a tooth problem on vacation, don’t panic! Take a breath, pause, and assess. Many tooth issues are urgent, but not true emergencies. Being able to differentiate between an urgent care need and an emergency can save you lots of inconvenience and a ton of money, too.
If possible, call your regular dentist first. We’ll do our best to guide you over the phone as far as your best course of action. That may mean calling in an antibiotic to help calm a painful infected tooth, or giving you dental first aid tips.
If your tooth problem can wait until you get back, it’s best to hold off until your regular dentist can see you. We know your dental history and can make the right treatment recommendations for you. More importantly, we’ll be able to follow up and ensure your results are great. However, if you’re experiencing pain or have a true emergency on your hands, seek out a dentist where you are! Then follow up with us as soon as you get home.
If you’re travelling abroad, finding dental care may feel intimidating. A good place to start may be the US Embassy or a consulate where you are travelling. They will likely have a list of English-speaking providers or be able to guide you to one.
Preparation is Key to a Tooth-Healthy Holiday!
Of course, the best way to deal with a dental emergency while you’re on vacation is not to have one in the first place! If possible, try to schedule a dental health check-up before you leave. That way you can enjoy your vacation with a clean bill of dental health, and we can address any potential problems that are likely to cause you trouble.
We wish you a great holiday season, wherever it takes you! Keep smiling and enjoy your vacation, Orlando!