Summer is officially here, which means that summertime travel is officially upon us.
This summer 71% of all Americans plan to take some sort of a vacation. Whether it’s packing the car for a family camping road trip, flying overseas, riding the rails or setting sail on a tropical cruise, millions of people will be traveling near and far for the next few months.
With kids out of school, nicer weather, and longer days, it’s a perfect time for everyone to break loose their inner travel bug. But summer travel is also a time when your routine dental hygiene can take a vacation too, which creates yet another opportunity for tooth decay, cavities and gum disease.
Spending hours traveling in a car or plane, in new time zones, with changes in your routine diet, can interfere with your daily flossing, brushing and oral hygiene schedule. Basically, vacation mode can wreak havoc on your teeth, if you’re not careful.
Luckily, without having to spoil anyone’s travel plans, here are some helpful summer travel oral hygiene survival tips.
- When you can’t brush your teeth for a while, be mindful of eating foods that have a lot of sugar (granola bars), are sticky (gummy bears), acidic (diet soft drinks), or starchy (fries & goldfish)
- Pack foods (when you can), or be mindful to eat foods that help clean your mouth and wash out cavity causing bacteria – celery and other high fiber veggies, as well fruits like apples. These foods will stimulate saliva production, which will help keep your mouth clean between your flossing and brushings.
- Stay hydrated – drinking water throughout the day will also help to flush bacteria out and wash your teeth, especially after you’ve eaten foods in #1. And if you’re flying also helps protect you from getting dehydrated and from “dry mouth”.
- Straws Save the Day – Can’t road trip without a soft drink? Drink it with a straw. This will help reduce the sugar contact on your teeth.
- Have a Oral Hygiene Back-up Plan – Flying? Pack an extra toothbrush and floss in your carry-on. Not only will you be able to brush/floss after in flight meals, you’ll also have your oral hygiene back-up in case your checked-in baggage doesn’t arrive.
- Maintain your daily oral hygiene routine – Traveling through different time zones and fighting jet lag can throw you off your routine, especially when you don’t remember the last time you cleaned your teeth. Try to remember to brush or floss every 10 hours, or at least every 20 minutes after you eat a meal.
- Your diet will slide, but make room for some smart food choices – You’re on vacation! It’s time to celebrate, so live a little! Most likely you’ll be eating out more, and indulging more too. No need to ruin all the fun, just remember to incorporate some healthier meal choices now and then, and when you can’t brush your teeth try rinsing your mouth out with water following meals.
- Dental Emergencies – Hopefully this doesn’t happen, but sometimes a knocked-out tooth, or a toothache can become an inconvenient travel downer, especially when your dentist is miles away. What to do? Unfortunately, your travel destination will determine what types of dental options you might have, especially if you’re traveling someplace off the beaten path. While you can’t control a dental emergency from happening, you can minimize them through preventative dental care. Staying on top of your annual dental exams and teeth cleanings will help reduce unexpected surprises like tooth aches. And if you’re planning on doing any sports or recreational activities on your vacation (biking, jogging, hiking), consider wearing a custom fitted sports mouth guard to protect your teeth. Being mindful of what you chew (hard candies, ice, nuts) during your vacation can also be helpful.
Wherever you wind up this summer, we hope your summer travels are fun. Incorporating some of these oral hygiene tips when you’re on the road, will help keep your teeth healthy, and help prevent any dental surprises once you’re back at home. Safe travels, Aloha!
P.S. Don’t forget that summer is also an excellent time to get your family’s dental check-ups and teeth cleanings scheduled before school starts up again. If you still need to schedule an appointment, or change one, please call us at (206) 242-0066 or contact us online!