As the year ends, many people are getting ready to take planes, trains, and cars all over the country to spend the holiday season with their loved ones. According to a report conducted by AAA, roughly 107.3 million Americans will journey at least 50 miles from home between December 23rd and January 1st. If you’re one of those people, while you’ve been packing and planning, have you considered how to keep your teeth healthy? Both traveling and the holidays can be difficult on your teeth, so keeping good oral health this time of year is essential to avoiding dental issues in the New Year. Here are the best holiday travel tips for maintaining a happy, healthy smile all season long!
Preparation is the Best Prevention
The best way to keep your oral health on track during the holidays is to be prepared. Plan for good oral health while traveling by:
- Packing everything you need, including toothbrush, floss, and mouthwash.
- Continuing good habits like brushing for two minutes twice a day.
- Storing your toothbrush and floss somewhere close by as you travel for easy access.
- Taking the time for a quick brush after eating on the go.
- Having your dentist’s contact information in case of emergencies.
Mind your Munching
One of the most common things packed when preparing for a trip, especially a long one, are goodies to snack on along the way. Unfortunately, popular travel foods like gummy candy, crunchy granola, and soda are all bad news for your teeth. Even small amounts of sugary, chewy, or hard foods can cause cavities, cracks, and other types of damage to your teeth if you graze on them for a long time. Instead, choose healthier snacks like cheeses, fruits, or sugar-free candies.
It can be easy to forget to drink you water if you’re sitting for prolonged periods of time, but dehydration causes dry mouth, which is very detrimental to your oral health. A dry mouth weakens your tooth enamel, strengthens existing infections like gum disease, and promotes bacteria and cavity growth. Stay hydrated to keep your body and your teeth healthy and functioning.
Rest and Relax
The holidays and traveling each come with their own separate sets of worries, and together they can create a stressful time for many of us. For the sake of your mental and dental health, it’s important that you take the time you need to relax. Stress can cause:
- Nervous chewing on nails, pen caps, and ice, which can damage your teeth.
- Stress eating, specifically on feel-good sugary foods, that increase the likelihood of cavities.
- Bruxism, the grinding and clenching of your teeth while you sleep, wears down your enamel and can fracture your teeth. Wearing a nightguard can protect your teeth as you sleep.
If you feel yourself getting stressed, take a moment to yourself to relax. Be sure to get a full 8 hours of sleep every night and proper nutrition to help naturally control your stress and keep your teeth safe.
Traveling during the holidays can be fun and exciting, but it can also be very difficult for your teeth. Follow these tips so you can enjoy the festivities with a happy, healthy smile!
About the Author
Dr. Derek Song is a general, preventive, and cosmetic dentist based in Burlington, MA. He is a graduate of Boston University’s Henry M. Goldman School of Dental Medicine and holds memberships in the academy of General Dentistry, American Dental Association, and Massachusetts Dental Society. He offers superior dental care to help his patients maintain beautiful, healthy smiles wherever they travel for the holidays. If you’d like to learn more, he can be reached at his website or at (781) 272-5890.