Don't neglect your oral health while traveling
SUMMARY: Excitement is high and schedules are out of whack while traveling, but that doesn't mean your oral health should take the back burner.
Posted: March 7, 2013
It's getting to be that time of year again when the sun sets a bit later and the warmer weather sets it. With spring break just around the corner for many families and students, now is the perfect time to remember the importance of maintaining oral health. When you're hitting the open road, the last thing on your mind may be your bad breath or the health of your teeth, but it may be the first thing everyone else notices! Remember, you're in close quarters. Travel can be hectic, but it is well-worth the hassle - and so is your oral health.
Carry a travel kit
Whether you're going to be in the car or on a plane, having a travel kit handy is helpful. If you're flying to your destination, make sure to carry along your toothbrush, floss and a travel-size mouthwash in your carry-on bag - you don't want to risk it if your luggage gets lost in transition.
If you're traveling via the open highway, you should make sure to have these items in the car with you and not in your suitcase piled into the trunk. You're much more likely to remember that you have to brush if you have a travel kit nearby.
Protect your toothbrush from germs and getting damaged by using a toothbrush cap, since you're not going to have convenient access to water at all times. Once you reach your destination, make sure to take the cap off because it can lock in moisture and create a breeding ground for germs.
Take brush breaks
"Being away from home can make it easier to neglect your oral health and may take a toll on your teeth," said Dr. Katina Morelli, DDS, dental director for Delta Dental of Illinois. "But even while you travel, you don't have to take a vacation from good oral hygiene."
Sure, you're going to take bathroom breaks during your trip, but sometimes a gas station in the middle of nowhere isn't the most hygienic place to clean your mouth. Rest stops usually have much more cleanly facilities, so you should make sure to take brush breaks at appropriate times. If it's a dire situation, grab a bottle of water and brush your teeth in a parking lot - you'll feel so much better afterwards!
Keep healthy snacks around
When you're traveling, the easiest snacks to have on hand are often crackers and chips, but these carbo-loaded munchies can quickly cause bad breath. High in starch, these snacks will stick around in your mouth and wreak havoc.
Instead, make sure to pack fresh fruits and veggies, like apples, carrots and berries. Apples and carrots can help reduce dental plaque when you're on the road, while combating dry mouth that you may experience from being cooped up in a dry car all day. Cheese sticks and nuts are also great options to have on the road because they are easy to eat and don't cause bad breath.
Have water on-hand
Every time you make a pit stop, you're likely to be drawn to the coffee machine to stay alert. Although you may not want to head to the bathroom every hour, drinking plenty of water can help keep the mouth fresh and remedy dry mouth caused by the increased amount of caffeine you're consuming. Water rinses away bacteria that sit at the back of your tongue and cause bad breath, gingivitis and other oral health issues. Try to take small sips whenever possible and swish it around your mouth to get rid of any food particles that were left behind.