Are you planning a long-term journey away from home? Along with your luggage and fun money, you take your teeth with you wherever you travel, and you should plan ahead of time to keep your smile clean and healthy as you explore new places.
If you’re traveling out of the country, begin your dental-care preparations at least six months ahead of your departure date. If your travels will be based in the U.S., give yourself a month in advance of your trip to prepare. Listed below is a recommended schedule to follow in pursuit of dental readiness.
Six Months Prior to Departure
Well in advance of your trip, begin scheduling any recommended immunizations for the area where you’re headed. The U.S. State Department and your family physician are two sources for information about recommended shots in various nations and territories.
Undeveloped and underdeveloped areas of the world are prime places to contract diseases. Currently, it is suggested that travelers be vaccinated for:
- Hepatitis A
- Hepatitis B
Health warnings and watches are possible in any country, and nations all over the world been on global watch and warning lists in the past year.
The dental staff in many at-risk nations may not be immunized against common diseases like those listed above. If you have a dental emergency requiring treatment while in a risky location, you could be exposed to pathogens that make you seriously ill.
It’s advised that you begin your vaccinations early because shots for diseases including Hepatitis B must be started six months ahead of your vacation to receive the entire series required. Adventure travelers who are due for tetanus shots should also schedule vaccinations at this time. Use your pre-travel time to get caught up on any immunizations you lack.
One Month Prior to Departure
To avoid dental problems during your journey, schedule a dental exam and cleaning at least one month before you travel. Your dentist will thoroughly inspect your teeth and correct any problems that might cause you trouble while traveling.
Any emerging cavity, abscess or other issues will be managed well ahead of your trip. You will have peace of mind knowing you won’t end up in pain or suffer a medical emergency because of an untreated tooth while traveling.
The dental cleaning is especially important if you have any symptoms of gum disease. The gums protect the teeth from bacteria. When gums degrade and recede due to periodontal disease, teeth are vulnerable to infection. Your dentist can advise you on how to manage your gum disease as a traveler.
Procedures including wisdom-tooth removal and root-canal repair should also be performed at least a month in advance of your trip so that if there are any follow-up issues with invasive dental treatments, you won’t be far from home. Your dentist can address the problems in a clean, safe office.
If you’re flying to your vacation or business destination, that’s another good reason to schedule dental procedures at least a month ahead of travel. Airplane travel — with the changes in air pressure — can cause pain in a recently treated tooth.
One Week Before Departure
Assemble your dental hygiene kits. You should have two. A small waterproof pouch is a perfectly sized container for your carry-on tooth-care kit. Place a fresh toothbrush in the pouch with travel-size containers of the following:
- Dental picks
- Antiseptic mouthwash
- Disposable tooth wipes
Carry this personal dental kit with you wherever you go. It’s small enough to pop in a purse or backpack so you can always freshen your mouth.
Your larger kit should include some emergency dental supplies along with extra toothbrushes and regular-sized versions of the other supplies listed above. Add over-the-counter pain relief, clove oil and gauze. If you’re traveling with children, add a zip-close bag to save any teeth that may be lost while you travel. Ask your dentist about other tooth-saving solutions.
While You’re Traveling
Recently, a British toothbrush company conducted a survey of music-festival attendees, and 15 percent of the survey respondents admitted to ignoring their usual oral-hygiene routines while at festivals.
Most people who travel will confess to abandoning some of their personal discipline when on the road, however, forgetting to take care of your teeth while traveling might have serious consequences.
Infectious bacteria in the mouth may lead to bacterial infection of the heart and serious health problems. When traveling, you’re exposed to entirely new bacteria in the air, food and beverages. Your hands may pick up infectious microorganisms and transfer the bacteria or viruses to your mouth when you eat or touch your lips.
Stick to a schedule of brushing and flossing at least twice a day whenever possible. If the water is not safe to drink where you are, don’t use it for brushing, even if you spit it out afterward. Use bottled water or mouthwash to rinse your mouth. If you don’t rinse at all, the fluoride in the toothpaste will remain on teeth to protect them for a longer period of time.
Contact Silverado Family Dental today to schedule your pre-travel dental examination before you head out for your next big adventure. We offer compassionate, skilled dental services for patients of all ages.