Dental tips for a great vacation

A few thoughts to keep you smiling, no matter where you wander this summer

By Dr. Stephanie McGann, DMD FAGD, Columnist, The Times

UTStephCollogoSummer is the time most of us plan a get-a-way. Whether your vacation is relaxing, adventurous or anything in-between a little pre-planning can provide peace of mind while traveling.

Before you go

Be sure your dental care is up-to-date. Nothing can ruin a vacation faster than an unexpected dental emergency. Don’t let your vacation be compromised by something that could have been easily fixed prior to your trip.   If it’s been a while since you’ve seen your dentist, don’t wait till the last minute. If there is a dental concern you need time to get it treated before you go. Be sure to let your dentist know of your vacation plans. In some cases treatment will be delayed until you return or modified to accommodate your plans.

A smart traveler will check with his or her dental insurer to see if they have coverage for dental emergencies outside of their area.

What to Bring

We hear our mother in the back of our mind reminding us not to forget our toothbrush. Today we need to be sure to pack all of our home care items including our floss, go-between’s Sonicare® or any other items your dentist has you use on a regular basis. We know we are going to eat and drink things we don’t usually consume (it is vacation you know) so we need to make sure we don’t slack off on our oral hygiene.

If you wear a night guard, bring it. Use an electric toothbrush? Don’t forget the charger. If you are traveling overseas, be sure you have an adapter if necessary.

Denture wearers should be sure to bring adhesive, even if you don’t routinely use it be sure to pack a tube. It may come in handy in the event of a broken or cracked denture or if you suddenly find yourself snorkeling you may want to increase the hold of your teeth.

Sugarless gum, that’s right, tuck some sugarless gum away in your luggage. If something unexpected happens, such a tooth breaks or a filling comes out, a piece of sugarless gum chewed and compressed into the exposed area will protect the tooth from the elements and will often allow you to continue your vacation uninterrupted.

Just in case, we should always pack some Tylenol®, Advil® or other medication for discomfort. Who knows what our vacation might bring. For the adventurous sorts, don’t forget your sports guard. If you find yourself with the opportunity to play racquetball you will still want to protect your teeth.

Air travel often means layovers and nights spent at 30,000 feet over an ocean. Be sure to pack a small oral hygiene kit in your carry on. Some manufacturers even make toothbrushes that come individually wrapped with toothpaste already in the bristles. These single-use brushes are great for travel days.

What to do when emergencies happen on vacation

The most common emergency on vacation is a crown (or temporary crown) comes off. For most people this is not a painful problem. For some the tooth underneath may be sensitive to cold. Denture adhesive or sugarless gum may be used to secure the crown back in place. If this does not work, and the tooth is not sensitive, put your crown in a safe place, keep the area clean and make arrangements to see your dentist as soon as you return. If a filling comes out a piece of tooth breaks, sugarless gum will also work.

Pain that is not managed with over-the-counter pain control, swelling and pain on chewing may need to been addressed as an emergency. If you are staying at a hotel, ask the concierge for information on their dentist on call. In many cases a dentist can stabilize the situation and save your vacation.

Tips to help prevent emergencies

Do not use your teeth as tools. Every dentist has seen broken teeth related to opening packages, tearing off a wristband, or even using them to open a bottle. Pack a small scissors and bottle opener (not in a carry –on).

Don’t chew the ice – if you have large silver fillings, chewing ice is an easy way to crack teeth.

Rinse if you can’t brush. A seed or shell lodged under the gum can be extremely painful and sometimes can cause severe pain and swelling. If you are eating these things, (yes we are on vacation) be sure to use that glass of water to drink/rinse around before you leave the table.   Exception: if you are in a country where the water quality is questionable, use bottled water and even used bottled water to brush your teeth.

Whether you are going just down the road or across the globe, have a wonderful summer vacation.

Dr. Stephanie McGann, who has more than two decades of dental practice experience, is a resident of the Unionville area and along with her partner, Dr. Marie Scott, operates The Brandywine Smile Center, a family-friendly dental practice in Concordville. Dr. McGann has opened a new practice in Valley Township, Rainbow Valley Dental. She is a Fellow of the Academy of General Dentistry.

   Send article as PDF   

Share this post:

Related Posts

One Comment

  1. Tobias says:

    I love the tip to not use your teeth as tools. You’d think that it would be pretty much common sense, but I’ve learned that common sense isn’t always common. I’m getting ready for my own vacation with family, and I’m going to share all of these tips with them. Thanks for sharing!

Leave a Comment