Why would we even think about brushing and flossing when there’s so much to do before a trip?
The truth is that oral hygiene is a crucial component of your general health.
Overlooking it can not only ruin a trip but leave you with cavities, gum disease, and even lead to heart disease or a weakened immune system.
That’s why a little bit of foresight can go a long way when it comes to oral health.
Fortunately, it’s pretty simple to keep your mouth and teeth healthy while traveling.
Here are six tips to ensure your oral hygiene is up to par on the road.
1. Visit the Dentist Before You Leave
First things first, be sure to get a regular check-up and cleaning with your dentist. If you can, try to schedule it about two months before your departure. This way, you have plenty of time to correct any conditions your dentist might find.
They can also give you a quick refresher course on oral hygiene and help you choose the products you’ll need to maintain your oral health.
2. Don’t Change Your Oral Hygiene Routine
Whether you’re traveling short or long-term, make it a goal to stick to a proper oral care routine every day.
- Brushing before eating breakfast
- Brushing before you sleep
- Flossing once a day
- Brushing after eating any foods that could cause staining
- Using mouthwash occasionally
See the American Dental Association’s (ADA) Guidelines for Home Oral Care to learn more.
3. Stock Up Before You Leave
Make sure you have everything you need, plus a backup before you leave.
If you’re checking a bag, put all the larger liquids and toiletries in your checked luggage. If you’re traveling carry-on only, you can opt for travel-sized toiletries.
Note: I’ve traveled for three years and always carry a full-sized toothpaste in my carry-on. Mouthwash and other liquids will get confiscated, but it’s unlikely anyone will take your toothpaste.
4. Don’t Forget a Toothbrush Case
A toothbrush case helps keep your bristles clean and free of bacteria while it’s in your bag.
The best thing you can do is give your toothbrush enough time to dry completely before putting it back in the case. If you have to pack it wet, take it out as soon as you can at your next destination, rinse it off, and let it dry properly.
5. Bring Plenty of Sugar-Free Gum on Long Trips
Did you know that sugarless chewing gum can actually help reduce your risk for cavities? (As long as it’s used in conjunction with a proper oral care routine)
When you chew sugar-free gum, saliva production increases, helping wash away food debris left behind after a meal. It can also reduce bacteria and neutralize acids.
Sugar-free gum is a pretty good temporary substitute if you can’t brush your teeth right away, especially if you’re on a long journey and can’t access your toiletries.
6. Always Know the Water Safety Status
If the water is unsafe to drink where you are, you shouldn’t brush your teeth or rinse your mouth with it. Instead, use bottled or boiled water.
You can use this map from Our World in Data to see what percentage of the population has access to clean drinking water, but you’ll probably need to talk with locals or other tourists to determine whether you can drink tap water or not.
If you have any questions or doubts, use bottle water 100 percent of the time!
BONUS: Straighten Your Teeth While You Travel
Clear aligners are an awesome way to straighten your teeth while you travel. Companies like byte, Candid, and SmileDirectClub now offer alternatives to Invisalign.
Some of these companies, like byte, will send you all of your aligners up front, so you can take them with you when you travel. Your dentist or orthodontist will monitor your progress virtually, so you never have to worry about visiting the office.