It is said that “The Impulse to Travel is one of the hopeful symptoms of life”. Travelling is a great way to break the monotony of your daily routine, to experience new places, new cultures and meet new people. Whenever we get an extended vacation, we have our specific ways of how we utilize those precious days. Some people would like to relax at home and sleep in for a while, but for many, such holidays are simply another excuse to plan a trip and travel somewhere new.
A good planner will take a while to fine tune all the details of his visit. Care is taken to pack just exactly what one would need and on top of than those little ‘to be on the safe side’ additions. One such important detail of your trip that you really need to watch out for is your teeth and gums health along the way. Imagine being on a trip with your loved ones and all of a sudden waking up with a severe tooth ache, or not being able to enjoy the rare cuisine of a place you might be travelling because you cannot chew properly due to sensitive gums.
Therefore, it is important that you incorporate an oral healthcare checklist into your plans before you set out on any form of trip. Here are some valuable tips that you need to follow in order to stay on top of your oral health on the go.
FEW DAYS BEFORE YOU PLAN TO LEAVE
It is important that you schedule a dental appointment a few days before you are planning to leave. The last thing you want in a trip is to arrive at your favorite destination only to find out that you or your partner is facing a dental emergency. It is not just about taking care of your teeth at home; the right approach is to visit your dentist so that he can check your teeth for any dental problem you might need to get fixed. If you have any cavities filled or a denture placed, the dentist will examine it to make sure the filling is not loose or the crown and bridge are not about to come off.
Especially when you are planning a trip that involves air travel, your already compromised teeth may be under threat as the altitude achieved and cabin pressure can result in pain in the compromised tooth. It might also result it weakening and cracking of any prostheses placed in your mouth. Air trapped in your teeth can expand or contract at extreme altitudes, causing pain, inflammation, loose fillings and dentures. Such problems can also occur if you go scuba diving as similar pressure gradients are created under water as well. Also check with your dentist, to see if you need to take any over the counter painkillers or antihistamines before the flight takes off.
Therefore, it is necessary that you make your dental appointment well in time so that the dentist has a few days margin to schedule any dental work that you might need before leaving for a trip. The only excuse that you might have for not visiting a dentist is if you have an almost perfect oral health and have recently had your routine dental checkup done.
PACKING YOUR LUGGAGE
When it comes to packing your luggage. Good travelers always try to keep their luggage small and easily manageable. For your dental health there are a few things that must be a part of every suitcase, whether your travel light or not.
- Toothbrush: Yes, the obvious first pick for your luggage has to be your toothbrush. It should be a definite part of every luggage but still some people tend to ‘forget’ packing their toothbrush almost every time. Another thought is to buy a new toothbrush when you reach the destination, well we know that its either not going to happen, or even if it did, it might be a little late before you get a new tooth brush to remove that tartar that is now firmly stuck to your teeth. Therefore, don’t take it easy and put your toothbrush in the case first thing. And if you are using an electric toothbrush, remember to keep some extra batteries and bristle heads in your bagpack.
Another common mistake people make is to store their wet toothbrush (after being used) in plastic bags or using toothbrush case. It is not a very wise thing to do as the closed environment with moisture generates bacteria that keeps on growing in numbers. Always use a tooth case that has holes in it for proper ventilation and whenever possible, you should let your toothbrush dry out before it goes into its case. When this is not possible or you pack it away wet in a hurry, make a routine of unpacking your toothbrush, cleaning it and leaving it in an airy area as soon as you reach your destination.
- Floss: Leaving your floss behind is definitely not an option. Your oral cleaning routine will always remain incomplete if you did not use a floss to clean those interdental areas. Floss has to be the next thing that goes into your oral health pack next to your tooth brush and tooth paste.
- Dental Emergency Kit: You will not always have a dentist nearby especially when you are travelling to some far off tourist destinations. This might seem farfetched but keeping a small dental emergency kit can prove really handy any time. Ideally your dental emergency kit should have painkiller tablets, dental floss or toothpicks (for any hard food particle that might get stuck between your teeth), a cold compress and even a temporary dental luting agent in case a dental crown or bridge pops out.
- Keeps Supplies Accessible: Most of the trips that you go on would include a road trip or air travel lasting for hours and even days. Such trips usually involve a lot of random snacking and inappropriate food options. Make a habit of keeping your dental supplies in your carry on, or in your glove compartment, instead of keeping them stored in the check in luggage or in the trunk. Keep a small tube of toothpaste and a small toothbrush in an accessible place that you can use to brush your teeth during flights or any layover you may have on your way.
- Other Things to Consider: The above mentioned things should be a definite part of your backpack whenever you are going for a journey. Some other things than should ideally fit into your luggage would be a good antiseptic mouthwash, sugar free gum, a night guard (if you are using one), denture cleaners, cotton and antibacterial wipes. It is always a good idea to pack some extra oral care supplies in case you run out of the ones you have. Keep your dentist’s contact details with you and your dental insurance card as well, it is a good practice to find out if your dental insurance is applicable in the area that you are visiting or your dentist has any associates working there.
OUT ON THE ROAD
All the basic oral health principles that you routinely follow at home need to stay with you even if you are miles away from your base. Suppress the desire to snack on sweet and sticky food and do not change your eating habits drastically. Still, if you do give into the urge and have some sugary and sticky meals, or drinks, the best follow up would be to brush your teeth and floss to keep your teeth and gums in perfect form.
In case you forget your toothpaste or run out of it, you can still brush your teeth with plain water as you will still be removing plaque by simple brushing. Always remember to clean your tongue, chew on sugar free (xylitol containing) gum and have plenty of water.
Travelers are always advised to look out for the suitability of water source that is available at the destination they plan to visit. As good health advice is to take your own water with you or to use bottled water, the same goes for oral care. If the water is not safe for you to drink, it is simply not appropriate to brush with either. Use the same water source for brushing your teeth that you would be comfortable drinking from.
It is very easy to get complacent when you are out on a vacation. You want to loosen up, have fun and take a break from the stressful routine and you totally deserve that, but always remember that the plaque never takes a break. You can ignore most of your social and professional responsibilities on your tours but you cannot be careless about your personal oral and general health. Having said that, if you still get a little lazy and careless about your oral health, you don’t need to be too hard on yourself. When you reach back home, make sure you get back to your routine oral health regime and strictly abstain from any damaging eating habits you might have caught onto on the road.