Keeping up with oral hygiene while traveling can be tricky, especially if you’re super-busy or out of your usual routine, or you haven’t properly prepared. Let’s face it, when you’re sipping red wine in the Tuscan countryside or enjoying a sticky serving of baklava in Istanbul, your next dental checkup is probably the last thing on your mind. Fortunately, there are plenty of simple steps you can take before and during your travels to maintain your dental health while you’re away from home.
1. Get a Dental Checkup Before You Leave
When traveling, dental issues can quickly become uncomfortable, inconvenient, and costly. If you haven’t been for a dental checkup or a cleaning recently, it’s definitely wise to book an appointment before you hit the road. Regular cleanings can help maintain your oral health long after they’re done, and your dentist will be able to identify any glaring problems or cavities that can cause you issues while you’re traveling. Even if you’re traveling to a place where quality dental service is accessible and affordable, there is truly no place like home when it comes to seeing a dentist. If you’re due for a cleaning or a checkup, you’ll likely want to go somewhere familiar, and no one wants to take time out of their vacation to see a dentist. Just make sure that you don’t book the appointment at the very last minute, in case you need to schedule a follow-up appointment.
2. Store Your Toothbrush Properly
When you’re away from the comfort and cleanliness of your own home, it’s more important than ever to protect your toothbrush from bacteria. Toothbrush covers are super-cheap and make all the difference when you’re storing your toothbrush in your luggage or a hotel bathroom. Be sure you get a cover with holes and don’t store your toothbrush in a plastic bag or other airtight container while it’s still wet. Drying out your toothbrush before putting it in a case or bag will help prevent it from collecting bacteria. If you need to pack it up immediately after brushing, just pull it out and let it dry once you’ve reached your next destination.
3. Carry Travel-Size Dental Products
Although you can buy standard dental products like toothpaste, mouthwash, and floss pretty much everywhere, you might not be able to stock up as soon as you arrive in a new destination, and it’s best to avoid going without. You also can’t rely on airlines to provide you with dental products, especially if you’re using budget airlines or taking shorter trips. Travel-size containers of toothpaste and mouthwash are super-affordable and easily slide into your purse, backpack, or carry-on luggage. When you’re moving through time zones, traveling overnight, or just spending a lot of time in transit, it can be easy to slip out of your routine and forget about oral hygiene. If your dental products are one of the few items that you carry on your person, brushing and flossing will be far less likely to slip your mind. Small bottles of mouthwash are one of the most convenient travel items you can carry. Even if you plan on purchasing a larger bottle once you reach your destination, keep the labeled travel-size bottle filled up and store it with the rest of your carry-on items. You never know when a refreshing and cleansing rinse will feel like a lifesaver.
4. Make Use of What You Have
Even the most well-prepared travelers may find themselves without one or more of their dental essentials. In a pinch, brushing your teeth with your finger, using a toothbrush with plain water, or just rinsing with mouthwash is better than nothing. It is definitely preferable to use whatever you have and restock when you can than to completely skip your oral hygiene routine.
5. Pack an Extra Toothbrush
An extra toothbrush will take up a negligible amount of space and weight in your bag but may come in handy more often than you think. While it is highly unlikely that you won’t be able to find a toothbrush wherever you are in the world, you may not be able to replace it immediately. You only need to drop your toothbrush once before skipping a nightly brush seems like the best course of action. Opting for a pack of disposable toothbrushes can also come in handy when traveling, especially if you think that you can’t store your only toothbrush properly. If you use an electric travel toothbrush, consider carrying an extra standard toothbrush in case you find yourself without power or extra batteries.
6. Brush With Drinking Water
If you’re on a plane or traveling to a place where you can’t drink the tap water, don’t take the risk or just skip brushing your teeth. Use your bottled water or other source of drinking water to avoid getting sick. This also goes for camping or any other adventures where you might not have access to running water.
7. Carry Sugar-Free Gum or Mints
Although you should always try to keep up with your brushing and flossing routine, it is definitely not always possible or reasonably convenient, and no one really wants to spend more time in an airplane or train bathroom than is absolutely necessary. Gum and mints are definitely better than nothing when it comes to cleaning your teeth, and you’ll definitely be glad you have them when you need to refresh. If you’re traveling by plane, it also comes as a bonus that chewing gum will help relieve the pressure on your ears.
8. Avoid Dental Injuries
When you’re countless miles away from your dentist or you aren’t able to get a dental checkup immediately, the last thing you want to do is crack, chip, or break a tooth. Of course, accidents do happen, but just keep your dental health and safety in mind if you’re planning on partaking in any extreme sports or chowing down on any hard foods.
That concludes our recommendations for maintaining dental health while traveling. Hopefully you found these tips helpful and they save you from any inconvenient dental disasters and future dentist bills.