Spring and summer are some of the most popular times for people to travel, especially because the weather is warm and it stays lighter outside for longer. Vacations, get-togethers, parties and reunions can bring much-needed stress relief. However, you don’t want to stress out your oral health by forgetting about it during times you’re traveling or on vacation. Here are a few easy tips to take care of your oral health while traveling so you avoid oral health problems!
Tooth Decay and Plaque
Did you know that simply eating and drinking is contributing to your risk of tooth decay, gum disease and other oral health disease? This is actually normal and not a reason to panic. When you eat, sugars in your food and drinks will mix with mouth bacteria when you chew. Instead of being swallowed, sugar and bacteria will mix to create a sticky film called plaque.
That plaque will stick to your teeth instead of going down your throat. Once those substances mix, it creates plaque that is acidic. That acidic plaque will then start to break up minerals in your teeth, causing decay and gums that bleed, become red and swollen and that recede. You can, however, combat your risk for all of those issues simply by changing the way you eat while making sure you have good oral hygiene, especially when you travel.
Sugar and Traveling
Sugar is incredibly sweet. So sweet, in fact, that it is added to most foods you can buy at the store. That makes it hard to avoid sugar, and it makes it so you must be extra careful to check your food and drink labels to make sure you and your teeth stay healthy. Too much sugar has been linked to countless chronic conditions like diabetes and heart disease, as well as obesity and addiction. Not only is it bad for your body, but it’s incredibly damaging to your teeth.
When you’re traveling, you’re exposed to lots of foods on-the-go. Most gas station foods will be full of sugar, which will lead to tooth decay, especially when you are stuck traveling for long periods of time. Cut the sugar, cut your oral health risks.
Did you also know that you should be brushing your teeth at least twice a day for two minutes at a time, as recommended by the American Dental Association? However, Yahoo found that only 44% of men and 37% of women brush their teeth twice a day. Only 1 in 3 millennials barely brush their teeth once a day. Yikes!
Those are studies for people that aren’t even on vacation or traveling. It’s no wonder that about 92% of people have cavities by adulthood. Your risk can become even greater if you travel often for work, school or vacations. That is why you want to employ a few easy tips for oral health while traveling.
Oral Health and Traveling
Cavities are areas of decay on your teeth due to eating too much sugar (which creates decay-causing plaque) and not enough oral health habits. You may find yourself skipping brushing and flossing when you’ve traveled all day or spent nights away from home. You don’t have to forget about your oral health during these times! Here are a few tips to try for your next vacation or business trip:
- Take an oral health travel kit for brushing and flossing. Buy one of these at the store or make your own. Get a mini toothbrush, toothpaste, mouthwash, floss and any specific oral health medications you need.
- Make sure your case is breathable. Soap cases or specific oral hygiene kits should have breathable containers so water evaporates and so that mold and bacteria doesn’t grow.
- Don’t share toothbrushes. If you forget yours, ask your hotel or lodge for a complimentary toothbrush. Sharing toothbrushes spreads bacteria, leading to sickness and decay.
- Bring a hand-held mirror. This can help if you get something caught in your teeth.
- Tape your dentist’s contact information onto your oral hygiene kit or carry it in your wallet. This will come in handy if you have any oral health issues while traveling.
- Carry any supplies needed (like wax) if you have braces.
- Set a reminder on your phone or watch to brush and floss your teeth if you struggle to remember to brush and floss your teeth.
Why Is This Important?
Why does any of this matter? Consider the statistics:
- 31.6% of adults between 20 and 44 have untreated tooth decay.
- 91% of Americans have had cavities at some point in their life.
- 47% of American adults have gum disease. That equals about 64.7 million Americans, and that’s only the adults!
- 8.7% of those adults have mild gum disease (gingivitis), 30% have moderate, and 8.5% have severe gum disease that leads to rapid tooth loss.
- An estimated 120 million Americans are missing at least one tooth in their mouth.
No matter if you are wanting to take charge of your oral health on a day-to-day basis or if you are wanting to be better about brushing and flossing on vacation, start now. Every little bit helps. Simply brushing your teeth one extra time while traveling will add up over many days, reducing your risk for tooth decay and gum issues. Making time to see the dentist instead of skipping your appointment could find cavities before they became large.
If you know you’re going on an extended vacation, schedule a dental check-up. This is especially important before you go out of the country, as there are many other parts of the world that don’t have quick access to good dental care. Fix dental issues before you travel and get your check-ups before leaving on vacation and after returning. To schedule your exam, or for specific tips for oral health for your trip, call Family & Cosmetic Dentistry of the Rockies at (970) 223-8425!
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