Dental Hygiene Tips

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Published: August 18, 2017

As at home, when you travel, it is a good idea to take care of your teeth. Dental work can be expensive, perhaps even more than at home.

See our list of dental packing items for ideas on what you might want to pack on your trip.

Check out your travel insurance, which may cover dental. Read the fine print, but it will probably only be emergency dental that is covered, if at all.

Dental Tourism

Some travellers are choosing to have their dental work performed overseas due to the large savings on offer. Destinations like Thailand, Mexico, Costa Rica, Spain, Hungary, Philippines, Malaysia, etc can have dentists trained in other countries, like the U.S. and have access to the latest dental technology.

Do your research and remember these countries are often not as highly regulated, which is part of the reason why they are cheaper. Weigh up the risk factors and compare fees to the complexity of the work involved.

Choosing a toothbrush

Ask advice from your dentist:

  • Electric or manual?
  • Best bristle firmness for your teeth?

Dental Hygiene Tips

  • Replace toothbrushes every 3-4 months, or if the bristles are worn.

  • When you brush after meals, some dentists recommend not to do so for up to an hour as acids can make your teeth susceptible to damage at this time. Brushing after meals can reduce staining.

  • Don't brush for at least 30 minutes after acidic food as you can damage your teeth.

  • Do not brush too hard as this can damage teeth enamel and gums. If the bristles are worn well before this, you may be brushing too hard.

  • Ask your dentist about the latest brushing technique to ensure you are doing it right.

  • Aim to brush for at least 2 minutes, twice a day. Some toothbrushes even have built in timers to remind you when you have reached your time goals.

  • You can brush your tongue by scraping the bristles gently forward. This can reduce bacteria in your mouth.

  • Spit out the toothpaste when you finish, but do not rinse, as the toothpaste can help protect your teeth longer if left to coat the teeth.

  • Rinse your mouth or chew sugarless gum to help your mouth get back to a safer acidic level. Sugarless Gum can help generate saliva, clean your teeth and keep your breathe fresh, e.g. Xylitol instead of sugar.

  • Try to limit snacking, especially snacks with sugar.

  • Use safe water. In some countries it is not advised to use tap water.

  • Clean your hands before performing your dental tasks.

  • Clean your toothbrush after each use. Clean with water to remove toothpaste and any particles. Try to dry the brush in an upright position and open air as damp environments help bacteria grow. If you travel after brushing, try to dry the brush at your destination.

  • Store your toothbrush so it does not get damaged in transit, or the brush gets deformed. Packing should allow for airing and drainage.

  • Place toothbrush in a safe location so it is not likely to end up somewhere unsanitary (like being knocked into the toilet).

  • Clean the case your brush is carried in every now and then.

  • Clean your toothbrush before first use, as some brushes may not come in a sterile package. Excessive heat from e.g. microwaves, can damage your brush.

  • Sharing toothbrushes can increase the risk of infections. Store them separately after use.

  • Stock up if you like particular dental products that might be hard to find on your travels.

  • Travel sized dental items are available for space challenged travellers, or if you want to take them on a plane.

  • Mouth Wash is recommended by the American Dental Association for children above the age of 6 due to the danger of younger children swallowing large amounts of the mouthwash. ADA distinguish between cosmetic mouthwash for temporary breath refreshment and therapeutic mouthwash that may help reduce or control plaque, gingivitis, bad breath and tooth decay.

  • Dental Floss is great for removing annoying items from between your teeth. There was some press in 2016 regarding the effectiveness of flossing and this was the response from the American Dental Association and they still recommend flossing daily.

  • Water Flossers are available in smallish travel sizes.

  • Toothpicks can be useful for cleaning the teeth or between them.

  • Green Tea studies have suggested dental benefits.

See here for tips by the American Dental Association (ADA) and here from the Australian Dental Association.

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