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5 Summer Travel Dental Care Tips

5 Summer Travel Dental Care Tips

5 Summer Travel Dental Care Tips
Dr. Jones
June 17, 2024

Summer is a popular time to get away and explore a new city, state, or country.  Whether you’re heading to a beach, touring another country, or taking a train across Canada, you want a stress-free break. Summer travel dental care is important, as anything can go wrong with your teeth when you’re away, but a little planning makes it easy to manage.

Anything can happen while on vacation. You try paddleboarding for the first time and fall off and break a tooth when you hit the board. You might bite into something sticky and pull a filling out. You can’t prevent everything. 

Try to do the best you can by avoiding too many drastic changes. And, be prepared for a worst-case scenario. Having a plan in place and following a few simple tips can prevent your vacation from becoming a downer.

Don’t Forget to Pack Must-Have Dental Care Products

Start by taking care of your teeth. Vacation doesn’t mean you should let your oral care routines slip. You have rules to follow if you’re flying to your destination.

Follow the 3-1-1 rule for transporting liquids on a plane. Containers shouldn’t be larger than 3.4 ounces (100 ml). They must fit in a 1-quart resealable bag, such as a quart-sized freezer or food storage bag. You can only bring one bag, so you’ll find it easier to buy items when you arrive.

Focus on packing things you will have a hard time buying at the destination. You might use a prescription toothpaste or oral rinse, make sure you have enough to last the trip. Do your kids take fluoride pills? Bring them. Pack these prescription items in your carry-on. If your luggage goes missing, you won’t have to rush trying to get your prescription refilled.

If you have braces and need special threader floss to clean between the wires, pack enough to last you the trip. Are you using Invisalign to straighten your teeth, bring them with you in case you need to move to the next tray while you’re on vacation.

A good rule of thumb is to pack:

  • Toothbrushes
  • Any prescription items, make sure it’s in the original packaging.
  • Special flosses or denture cleaning products
  • A small bottle of mouthwash, if you must, otherwise buy it when you get there.
  • Invisalign, if required.

If you’re flying, you may not find it convenient to bring a rechargeable toothbrush. There are rules on electronics with rechargeable batteries. If it has a lithium-ion or lithium-metal battery, it has to go in your carry-on baggage per the TSA. If you are already tight on carry-on space, leave the toothbrush and use a manual one.

Are you planning to engage in any activities where you could damage your teeth? Outdoor activities like water sports or team sports, 

Stick to Your Usual Oral Care Routine

Once you’re at your destination, try to stick to your usual schedule. Ideally, brush your teeth an hour or so before or after eating a meal. If you plan to have breakfast in the hotel and return to your room to get ready for the day, brush your teeth before you leave your room the second time. 

If you want to brush your teeth first, try to wait an hour after brushing before you eat. Brush your teeth as soon as you get up. Shower and get ready after that.

When you’re out exploring, make sure you’re drinking water after eating to keep rinsing your teeth of anything sticky or sugary that you do eat. As long as you don’t let foods cling to your teeth for excessive amounts of time, you’re not risking lasting damage. 

At night, keep up with your flossing and brushing. Even if you’re exhausted and just want to collapse on your bed, keep up with oral care routines. If you don’t, make sure you brush your teeth first thing in the morning.

Watch What You Eat

Local foods are a big part of any vacation, but some could lead to a costly dental visit. Make sure you’re using caution when you are exploring the local cuisine. As delicious as a piece of saltwater taffy looks, it’s not a great option if you have braces, crowns, or dentures. 

Everyone should get to explore the foods of an area. Use common sense and enjoy what you want, but avoid foods if you know it will become a problem. If you have braces, you know popcorn and sticky candies are not advised so don’t tempt fate. You have older fillings, don’t crunch ice in your drinks. 

Sticky and hard candies and foods are more likely to damage a tooth. Aim for foods that don’t increase the risk of problems. Instead of a caramel, enjoy some locally made fudge. Just make sure you drink a lot of water after to help wash away sugar. If you can, chew a piece of xylitol gum as additional protection in keeping bacteria from damaging the teeth.

Research Emergency Dentists in Advance

The ADA defines a dental emergency as a dental issue where there is a bacterial infection in the soft tissue, uncontrolled bleeding, or a traumatic injury to the face. For those, go to an ER if a dentist cannot see you immediately.

You can usually wait a few hours for these emergency issues to be seen. They include severe pain, a broken or fractured tooth or crown, a dry socket, or a filling that fell out. For other issues, you might be able to wait until you return.

One thing that can make your life easier is to research area dentists. If you take time to see the dentists nearest your hotel, cabin, or rental home, you can verify in advance that they take your insurance. Talk to your insurance company for recommendations, too. 

See a Dentist Before You Go

Our best tip is to schedule a dental appointment as close to your departure date as possible. If you’re due for a cleaning six weeks before you go, see if you can delay it until a couple of weeks before your departure. If there are any issues, you can have them corrected before you travel.

Dr. Jody Jones offers a full range of dental services. See his team for a cleaning and dental exam before you travel, have loose or broken fillings replaced, or get your teeth whitened to have a picture-perfect smile for all of the selfies you’ll take during your vacation.