Are you planning a trip in the near future? Even though we know how important it is to brush and floss regularly, travelling can make it a challenge to be consistent in maintaining an oral care routine. With a little planning, looking after your teeth while on the go can be convenient and easy.
Having a good quality travel toothbrush is a good first step. You can find many types of folding or two-piece toothbrushes that serve as their own travel toothbrush holders, which is especially helpful if you have limited space. But always make sure that the bristles are soft, and that the brush head is the appropriate size and shape for your mouth. If flying, packing a travel-sized tube of toothpaste and a small container of dental floss along with your brush in an easy-to-access compartment of your carry-on luggage will allow you to care for your teeth without any difficulty; it will also ensure that if you are separated from your checked baggage for any length of time your teeth won’t suffer the consequences!
Sugarless chewing gum is another essential to pack. The dry, recycled air on the plane can contribute to a dry mouth, which can promote tooth decay. Chewing sugarless gum will help restore the saliva in your mouth, which can help rinse away excess bacteria, and to neutralize the acids in your mouth. This is true whether in the air or on the ground.
Choosing your snacks carefully is important as well. If you’re stranded at the airport or a budget hotel with nothing but selections from a vending machine to sustain you, your teeth will thank you if you choose peanuts over pretzels or candy. Some evidence suggests that nuts might help protect tooth enamel from plaque by neutralizing acids in the mouth and providing a dose of healthy minerals such as phosphorus. Pretzels may sound like a healthy snack choice, but they are more likely than nuts to get caught between the teeth, and they contain more of the fermentable carbohydrates that can foster the growth of bacteria in your mouth, especially if you are on the go and you won’t be able to brush your teeth for a while. Things like dried fruits and candy are also good to avoid, as they are high in sugar and their soft, sticky texture allows them to cling to your teeth between brushings.
It’s very important also to rinse your mouth with water after you eat or drink in a dry environment, and to drink plenty of water. The more water you drink while travelling the better, not just for your teeth, but also for your general hydration, which can take a beating while on the road, thus leaving you more susceptible to jetlag and exhaustion and a dry mouth.
If your vacation will be taking you outside of Canada, it’s a good idea to ensure that your travel health insurance allows coverage for dental emergencies. It would make for an unpleasant and expensive vacation surprise if you ran into dental difficulties while away from home! A check-up prior to your departure is a good idea as well, especially if you’ll be traveling in developing countries or remote areas without access to good dental care. If you are leaving on a long journey, be sure to take care of outstanding check-ups a few weeks in advance of your trip as opposed to the last minute. This will allow adequate time for treatment and healing if there is something wrong. Also of note is that the pressure changes experienced through air travel (or scuba diving) can not only intensify a toothache, but can actually bring out pain in a tooth that has underlying issues but has not previously bothered you, so scheduling a check-up before you leave may save you a tremendous amount of discomfort on your journey. No one wants to start a vacation or business trip with a terrible toothache! Speak to your dentist about what to do if you encounter a dental emergency while away from home.
For further input on this or any other dental-related topic, please don’t hesitate to contact us at North Burnaby Dental Group. Our trained professionals are here to assist with any information or help that you may need.