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There’s nothing worse than having a relaxing getaway interrupted by a sudden bout of toothache.

Going on holiday usually involves breaking our normal routine with lots of relaxation and overindulgence, so it is important that we are aware of the potential risks to our dental health and how we can avoid them while away.

We spoke to Dr. Andrew Culbard, Cosmetic & Restorative Dentist, Dr. Roze & Associates Dental Clinic and discovered some simple tips and tricks to help maintain a healthy mouth while on holiday.

Before going on holiday

  • Check-up: Before setting off on your holiday, make sure you are up-to-date with your routine dental check-ups. If you have any niggles, make sure you highlight them to your dentist to ensure there are no minor issues that could become worse while you are away.
  • Travel Insurance: Make sure you have adequate travel insurance and that your policy covers emergency dental care while on holiday.
  • Stock up on supplies: Your oral health packing list should include, toothbrush, toothbrush case, toothpaste, floss and sugarless gum.
  • Transporting your toothbrush: Be sure to pack your toothbrush in its own case with adequate drainage and ventilation. Enclosed containers or plastic bags create the perfect environment for bacteria to grow. Bacteria can not only encourage decay on your teeth and infection in your gums, but it can also make you sick as well.

While travelling

  • Hand luggage essentials: If you are travelling long haul it is a good idea to include your toothbrush and a small tube of toothpaste in your carry-on bag. Another essential is sugar-free gum. Chewing sugar-free gum can not only help relieve ear pressure while flying – but it can also help clean your teeth and keep your breath fresh.

During your holiday

  • Ventilate your toothbrush: Leaving your toothbrush in its carrying case can allow bacteria to build up. When you arrive at your destination, be sure to remove your toothbrush and stand it upright in a cup to allow it to dry out properly.
  • Maintain your routine oral care: Don’t let your twice-a-day brushing routine slip, no matter how much fun you are having. Maintaining the good dental health habits, you have at home is key to protecting your teeth while on holiday.
  • Make tooth-friendly food choices: Going away normally goes hand-in-hand with overindulgence, but for the sake of your teeth try to limit your intake of holiday treats.
  • Breakfast: Freshly brewed coffee and cold pressed fruit juice can be highly acidic and lead to acid erosion of tooth enamel. You don’t have to deny yourself of these breakfast treats, instead wash them down with a glass of water or milk to help clear and neutralise the acids. Follow this up by brushing your teeth at least 45 minutes after finishing breakfast to allow the enamel to strengthen again following the acidic attack.
  • Poolside snacks: What’s an afternoon at your hotel pool without an ice lolly or chilled soft drink to keep you cool? Unfortunately, most of these snacks and drinks are full of sugar and overconsumption can eventually lead to tooth decay. If you do have a sugary treat, try to consume it within 15 minutes. This way your saliva can wash away the sugars and protect your teeth. Or why not try a savoury alternative such as crackers, healthy chips or some chopped raw vegetables, and stick to water to keep hydrated.
  • Chew gum after eating: Research shows that chewing sugar-free gum for 20 minutes after a meal stimulates saliva flow and consequently scrubs away food particles from your teeth.
  • Brush with bottled water: Brush and drink tap water with caution while on holiday. If you are in doubt always keep bottled water to hand to reduce the risk of picking up a stomach bug.