Oral Health for the Family On Vacation
The temperatures are heating up, and the number of days on the school calendar is shrinking! This can only mean one thing (at least, in kids’ minds): summer vacation is almost upon us.
For many families, getting away each summer is planned months in advance and looked forward to just as long. But, after all the preparation, why is it that something always happens right when you’re too far away from your regular avenues to take care of it?
Whether your luggage was lost by the airline, you forgot an important medication or you suffer from a medical or dental issue while away from home, addressing even commonplace problems can be difficult and burdensome.
You can take preventative measures to ward off illness like taking extra Vitamin C before a flight or starting a probiotic regime to make sure your stomach is ready for travel, but what about your teeth? Have you thought about how to best prepare your mouth for vacation and ensure it stays healthy during a vacation? Here are our best tips and tricks to prepare for your summer to guarantee you time away is a vacation and not just a trip!
Before you leave
The days leading up to a vacation can be stressful. Maybe you’re finishing up last-minute things for work or packing and cleaning the house, all while making sure you accomplish your normal daily tasks.
And so, it’s normal for us to be tempted to ignore little issues like a toothache or loose crown. However, dismissing a small problem today can make it a big problem while you’re away. Before you leave anywhere on vacation, make sure you follow up on any dental issues or unexplained pain you have in order to ensure avoiding any preventable dental emergencies away from home.
And while this probably goes without saying, make sure you remember to pack all your dental toiletries. If you’re only bringing carry–on bags, make sure to review TSA guidelines on what’s allowed. For example, is toothpaste actually a liquid or not? (Spoiler: less than 3.4 ounces is allowed in your carry–on.)
When you are packing, make sure to pack your toothbrush after it fully dries. This will prevent bacteria from growing while it’s in an enclosed space like a toothbrush holder. If you are traveling somewhere exotic, pack extra toothbrushes and floss in case you lose one or it becomes unusable.
While on vacation
Vacation is a time when a whole lot of people let their diet slip and indulge in food or drinks that aren’t normally part of their routine.
This is OK! You’re on vacation!
That said, it’s important to know that 86% of travelers reported gaining an average of up to three pounds when away from home for two weeks or more according to a 2014 study by Extended Stay America. And not only will a change in diet affect your waistline, it can also affect your teeth.
Again, you should enjoy vacation, but you can make a couple tweaks to oral habits to make sure there aren’t negative lasting effects!
Eating that extra ice cream cone or sugary cocktail at night can lead to sugars being left on your teeth for longer than normal. And this leads to the breeding of bad bacteria and eventually the development of plaque (and then tooth decay). If you are away from your hotel all day and don’t have anywhere to brush your teeth, pop in a piece of sugar free gum. Not only will it freshen your breath, it will also help wash away the bacteria that can cause problems.
It’s the little things that can make a big difference!
Being away from home also means you don’t have access to your dentist in case of an emergency. While some issues (like moderate tooth pain or swelling) can be addressed with home remedies until you return to North Texas, other issues might require immediate attention.
For example, if you’re experiencing uncontrollable gum bleeding, a knocked–out tooth, an injured jaw or extreme pain from a toothache, it is advised you see a dentist immediately. If you are a patient of Dr. Ku’s but traveling, give the office a call if you’re not sure what to do. Our staff will be able to help you find local care and advise you in your situation. If bleeding won’t stop or there is obvious trauma to the mouth, it might be prudent to go straight to the emergency room.
When you return
Returning from vacation can be hard…coming back to routine is nice, but getting back to work is rough! And a lot of us try to ease our way back in by keeping the vacation diet for a little too long at home. Just remember, while the extra dessert at night might seem fun in the moment, it’s important to restart (and maybe even refresh) healthy diet and health habits to get back on track.
Your return is also a great opportunity to come in for your bi-annual cleaning! Any plaque or tartar that built up while you were away won’t stand a chance.
At Dr. Ku’s office, we hope that everyone enjoys their summer vacation, and we look forward to hearing all about it at your next appointment!