A great vacation will likely take planning to settle on where to go, how to get there and what to do once you are there. Care is taken to pack just exactly what is needed and a little more for the “just-in-case” occasions. Just like every other detail of your trip, you need to organize your dental hygiene and care, and have a plan for the “just-in-case.”
Before you go
If you have a dental issue that you have been putting off, feel any discomfort, or have a more chronic condition such as periodontal disease, do yourself a favor and visit the dentist for a cleaning and a check-up to ensure that you are in good shape for travel.
In particular if you are travelling by air it is important to visit the dentist. Changes in altitude and cabin pressure can and will cause serious pain to a tooth compromised by an untreated cavity, or by dental work that has weakened, cracked or become loose. Tiny pockets of air can accumulate in compromised teeth. Just like the ears, those pockets of air will build up and need to be released on descent… Right through a raw nerve. Even sensitive, but otherwise healthy, teeth can feel uncomfortable on descent. Check with your dentist, to see if taking an off-the-shelf painkiller or antihistamine 30 minutes before takeoff is advisable.
What to pack
Travelling either for vacation or business always opens up the world of gear, such as a travel pillow, a small but versatile multi-tool, or an ultraviolet light pen that purifies water, for those who like high-adventure locales. Dental gear, while perhaps not nearly as hip, is essential gear.
Here’s what you need to pack for travel:
- Toothbrush – Like you did not already know that, but here is the catch: Whichever style (travel, home or electric) of toothbrush you choose, do not store it away in a plastic baggy after use. Assuming that after use the toothbrush is cleaned and shaken dry, it is not truly bone dry. The remaining moisture generates bacteria that keeps on multiplying itself. Whether it is a case, a bristle head cover or foldable, there must be ventilation, and if the preferred toothbrush is electric, remember to pack extra batteries and bristle heads.
- Floss – Do not get behind with your flossing routine and accumulate plaque in your teeth. Enjoy your food and vacation with a clean bright smile so pack your travel size floss.
- Mouthwash – I am sure you do not want to have bad breath during your vacation, so do not forget to pack your travel size mouthwash.
- Dental insurance card – Stuff happens when you are having fun. Check with your insurance provider about coverage while traveling, and whether or not there are available in-network dentists at the location to where you are traveling.
- Dentist’s details – Including full name, address, phone number, and email address, write these down and stick it in your wallet.
- Dental emergency kit – This is best if you are going to some far-flung locale where access to a qualified dentist is unavailable. These kits are small and inexpensive, but indispensable if say a crown pops off. They should include at a minimum: painkiller; dental floss; a cold compress, and temporary dental cement or dental wax. If you have dentures, the kit will also need denture repair liquid or powder. Some kits will also include toothache drops, toothpicks, a dental mirror, cotton, tweezers and anti-bacterial wipes.
While on vacation
All of the usual at-home rules apply: avoid sugar and stick to the regular oral hygiene regimen. If you splurge on sweet sugary drinks or make s’mores around the campfire, sensible hygiene, such as brushing and flossing to get the sticky stuff off, plus drinking lots of water and even chewing gum, should keep teeth in top form.
Because luggage does get diverted and even permanently lost, pack at least a travel toothbrush and a travel-sized toothpaste tube into your carry-on bag. Remember, if you are flying, the Transportation Security Authority requires that all liquids and gels be in containers no larger than 100ml. That half-used regular-sized toothpaste tube or semi-used bottle of mouthwash will be seized by TSA officers, and likely without a smile.
If you are planning a trip for Spring Break or for business and feel that something is not quite right or are concerned about an ongoing condition, come and see us first before you go. We will work with you to get you in before your departure date. Having a dental emergency while on the road or in the air will take over your trip and sabotage the best-laid plans.
We offer affordable dentistry with convenient hours at 60+ dental office locations in Dallas, Houston, Richardson, Arlington, Plano, Fort Worth, Grand Prairie, Irving, Aldine, Katy, Oak Cliff, Garland, Lewisville and more! Jefferson Dental accepts Medicaid, most dental insurance, and offers patients with no insurance deep discounts on treatment through our Sonrisa Plan.