It goes without saying that one of the last things on your mind when traveling is likely taking care of your teeth. But without maintaining proper oral health while traveling, your trip can easily be plagued with various oral heath challenges.
According to recent research by the dental professionals from The Smilist Dental Huntington dental clinic, there are a number of health issues that can arise from poor oral health including serious heart-related diseases.
While you may on top of your game when it comes to brushing and caring for your teeth and gums at home where you can easily stick to a set schedule, traveling has a way of breaking your healthy routines.
Let’s take a look at how you can avoid unnecessary tooth decay and gum disease with an effective oral hygiene travel plan. I’ll cover a range of ways you can better prevent dental problems from wreaking havoc during your next holiday.
Maintaining Good Oral Health While Traveling
Schedule a Pre-Travel Dentist Appointment
Avoiding dental issues while traveling starts well before you even jump on a plane.
Whether you have a history of great oral hygiene or not, you should always schedule a check-up with your dentist before travel, especially when planning longer trips or vacations overseas where adequate dentistry may not be available.
Your dentist can quickly recognize various dental issues that may cause pain or discomfort to occur in the immediate future. The last thing you want is for any preexisting issues with your teeth or gums to flare up while traveling that forces you to either endure the pain throughout your trip or end your trip early to return home.
Book your appointment well before your travel departure date in case issues are found which require a follow-up visit to resolve such as filling a cavity, getting a root canal or tooth pulled, or fixing problems with dentures.
Taking Care of Your Toothbrush
Taking care of your toothbrush is just as important as taking care of your teeth. It is after all the most important tool for cleaning your teeth.
When it comes to selecting a toothbrush for travel, while you may not want to pack your expensive electric toothbrush, be sure to not simply buy or use a cheap disposable toothbrush like you are often given at hotels or on a plane.
While cheap toothbrushes are fine in a pinch or for single-time use, you really want to be using a quality brush that can clean your teeth more effectively and matches the bristle-softness you are used to so as to avoid damaging your gums.
As for caring for your toothbrush, packing it in a travel toothbrush case that has holes for ventilation will keep dirt and debris out of your brush. Ventilation is important with any packing case or holder, since locking in moisture can allow bacteria to grow quickly.
After arriving at your destination, be sure to leave your toothbrush out in a dry cool place after every use. When you brush in the morning before relocating to another hotel or travel destination, make sure your toothbrush is fully dry before packing it up. This can be achieved in a hurry by using a hair dryer.
Mind What You Eat While Traveling
While most of us use travel as an excuse to cheat on our normal healthy diets and overindulge in items like sweets and alcohol, remember that what you eat can have an impact on your oral health.
We all know sugar, whether it’s in the form of desserts, candy, or sweet drinks, causes a range of problems for our teeth over time.
Consumption of sugar and acidic foods often leads to tooth decay and gum disease for many, especially when not keeping up with daily brushing and flossing.
While you don’t necessarily have to avoid sweets while traveling altogether, be sure to drink and rinse with water shortly after consuming sugary foods and drinks and brush your teeth at the earliest time that is convenient.
In addition to avoiding sugars and acids, it’s also wise to abstain from eating items that are commonly known to cause potential issues with teeth and gums. This includes especially hard foods that can crack your teeth as well as foods that easily get stuck in your teeth.
Avoiding food getting stuck in your teeth is especially important at times where using floss or brushing may not be convenient or possible.
Staying hydrated while traveling is important for your overall health, but in terms of your teeth it allows your body to produce a proper amount of saliva which balances the pH level and prevents an overgrowth of bacteria from forming. Having a chronic dry mouth leads to bacterial growth and potential tooth decay.
Regularly drinking water also allows you the ability to use it as a sort of mouthwash to help dislodge food particles stuck in your teeth and remove sugars and acids that have clung to your teeth when you can’t get immediately to brushing and flossing.
You can also pack dental gum or sugar-free gum to help remove food particles and increase your saliva production to prevent dry mouth.
Just remember to always drink safe water, something that may become an issue when traveling to regions with unsafe public drinking water or when drinking from natural sources in nature. You may have to resort to drinking bottled water or treating your water with a device or purifying tablets.
Maintain Your Regular Teeth Cleaning Habits
While travel can easily disrupt your regular daily routines, especially when traveling on long-haul flights to far-flung destinations where time zone changes become an issue, one of the best ways to avoid oral health problems is to stick to proper and regular daily teeth cleaning.
Problems such as gingivitis and thickening of plaque can start to occur in as little as a few days, meaning even a short suspension of your normal routine can start to cause issues with your teeth.
Keep up your flossing as well, but be sure to wash your hands before doing so if you’re flossing at airports or on a plane to avoid picking up germs and viruses that may otherwise be on your hands.
It’s also important to remember that not all places have fluoride added to their water, something that aids in keeping our teeth healthy. In such cases, it becomes even more important to use strong and effective toothpaste brands to keep your teeth and gums healthy.
Also, remember that if the water is deemed unsafe to drink, that also means you should not use it to brush your teeth or rinse your toothbrush out.
Stick to using treated or bottled water both when brushing and cleaning your toothbrush or any other instruments you may use for cleaning your mouth.
Avoiding Other Dental Problems While Traveling
In addition to staying on top of cleaning your teeth while traveling, do your best to avoid engaging in or at least be careful with any activities that could damage your teeth. This includes various sports and activities where you may easily take a blow to the head.
Accidents can of course occur with nearly any activity, but it’s about trying to at least prevent potential problems such as getting a tooth chipped or knocked out.
If you have especially sensitive teeth, you may also need to take more care with what you eat and the environments you are exposed to.
Drinking especially hot or cold liquids and foods for example can aggravate oral health issues, and breathing in cold air or being at high altitudes can also precipitate problems.
Dental Problems While Flying
While flying itself doesn’t cause oral health problems, it can make preexisting issue more pronounced for some travelers.
This is largely due to air pressure changes which can enhance pain if you are suffering from a mouth ulcer, cavity, cracked tooth, or recently had work done on your teeth.
You may also notice pain around your teeth and gums when there are no problems with your oral health. This may be because you have a sinus infection or cold which can radiate pain to regions of your mouth. Pain or discomfort associated with sinus issues such as an infection can become more prominent while flying as well.
Thankfully, oral pain and discomfort you feel when flying should quickly resolve itself upon landing, but if you’ve experienced new pain associated with your teeth or gums while flying, it may be a sign you need to visit the dentist upon returning home to catch any issues early that have begun to develop.
Lastly, despite your best efforts to maintain proper teeth cleaning and avoiding other potential problems, there may still be a time when you are forced to see a dentist while traveling.
This is often not a problem when visiting destinations which offer quality health and dental care, but could be daunting when visiting places where dentists may not be well-trained or have access to the latest equipment.
Receiving overseas dental treatment can also prove costly unless you have a travel insurance policy that covers dental care. Keep in mind that even policies which do include cover for dental work usually only cover unexpected injuries or issues that require immediate treatment. There are also usually quite low limits for what you are covered for, so you may still be out-of-pocket a fair amount.
Having a preexisting dental issue or receiving treatment that wasn’t deemed urgent such as simply getting a filling for a small cavity will likely not be covered and any such claims are likely to be denied.
So to wrap things up, maintaining proper oral health while traveling begins with visiting your dentist for a check-up before you go and then continuing to stick to a brushing and flossing routine using clean brushes, tools, and water.
Following these simple tips will hopefully see you never having to deal with serious dental issues while traveling out of state or out of the country. This will allow you to keep a smile throughout your trip, showing off your pearly whites to the world.