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How to Maintain Good Dental Care While Traveling

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Medically Reviewed By Colgate Global Scientific Communications

Whether road-tripping to see family for the holidays or flying out of state for a work conference, maintaining proper oral care while traveling is essential. So pack your cooler, grab your toothbrush, and buckle up – these tips will help keep your oral care on track.

Dental Tips Before You Hit the Road

  1. Make an appointment with your dentist. The last thing you want to deal with while out of town is a dental emergency. Routine visits to your dentist can help identify any issues before they cause too much pain or trouble, so you're not sitting on the sidelines of your vacation with a toothache. If it's been a while since you've seen your dentist, make an appointment before you go.
  2. Pack your toothbrush correctly. Packing your wet toothbrush in an enclosed space will make it a breeding ground for bacteria. Choose a toothbrush holder with some ventilation, and — if possible — allow your toothbrush to dry completely before packing it. If you're staying somewhere for a couple of days, give your toothbrush a break from its case. And don't forget to clean your toothbrush holder frequently with soap and water!

Follow These Dental Tips While Traveling

  1. Keep your oral care supplies within easy access. You never know when you'll need to freshen up your smile. Keep your toothbrush, toothpaste, floss, and mouthwash easily accessible by packing them in your carry-on luggage or purse. If you are driving, you'll be thankful not to have to rearrange the luggage just to grab your toothbrush. If you are flying, you'll be able to freshen up during your flight or layover.
  2. Check the water quality. For international travels, know whether you can trust the water out of the tap. If you can't drink it, you shouldn't brush your teeth with it either. Use bottled water instead.
  3. Limit your sugar intake. It's vacation and you deserve a treat or two. Still, too many sugary treats can really impact your teeth. Balance the occasional treat with some of these tooth-healthy travel snacks. Bring along a small cooler or insulated bag to keep them fresh. Some snack ideas include:
    • Baby carrots
    • Broccoli florets
    • Bananas
    • Sliced apples
    • Celery and peanut butter
    • Mixed nuts or trail mix
    • String cheese
    • Beef jerky
    • Water
  4. Carry sugar-free gum. It might be a while before your next pit stop, so if you need to freshen up between your regular oral hygiene routine, sugar-free gum is your best friend. Chewing gum can help remove food particles and bacteria from your teeth and keep your breath smelling sweet. Xylitol in sugar-free gum also helps to prevent tooth decay.
  5. Stick to your routine. Even if it's been a long travel day and you want to hop straight into bed, don't skip brushing and flossing. The plaque and bacteria that harm your teeth aren't taking a vacation even if you are. Brush your teeth twice a day for two minutes each and clean between your teeth with floss or an interdental device daily.

How Long Does a Travel Size Toothpaste Last?

If you are going on an extended vacation, you might wonder how much toothpaste to bring. How long will your travel size toothpaste last? Typical travel-size toothpaste tubes hold about 3.4 ounces, the maximum amount of fluids the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) allows you to carry on board a flight. If you are using the recommended amount and brushing two times a day, a 3.4-ounce tube will last for 9–10 brushings or about five days. Thankfully, toothpaste can easily be purchased at your nearest store if you forget or run out. Or your hotel might even provide a complimentary tube!

As you pack for your next trip, start thinking about your dental routines while traveling. Bringing along oral care necessities and putting a plan in place for on-the-go cleanings will help you maintain healthy teeth and a bright smile. Plus, you can indulge in the local cuisine without regret!

Oral Care Center articles are reviewed by an oral health medical professional. This information is for educational purposes only. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your dentist, physician or other qualified healthcare provider. 

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