Even when you’re dreaming about vacation, there’s
no place like home–especially a dental home base.
“Prevention isn’t only taking care of your teeth,”
Dr. Messina says. “It’s establishing a relationship
with a dentist.” If you can, schedule your next
regular visit before your trip. “Have a thorough
exam so we can spot any problems before they
happen,” Dr. Messina says. You’ll have peace of
mind, and your dentist will have the most
up-to-date information on your teeth, including
In Case of Emergency...
Have your dentist’s contact info handy in your
cell phone or keep a business card in your wallet.
“If you think you need to talk to somebody, you
probably do,” Dr. Messina says. In fact, more
dental emergencies can be resolved over the phone
than you might think (especially if you keep up
regular visits). “As a patient, it’s hard to know
the difference between something that needs to
be treated right away and something that can
wait until you get home,” he says. ”That’s what
we are here for.”
In Case of Emergency Overseas…
If you are out of the country and absolutely
in need of a dentist, Dr. Messina recommends
getting in touch with the local consulate or U.S.
embassy. “While talking to the concierge at
the hotel is OK, ask the consulate and
their employees for a recommendation,” he
says. “It’s an independent recommendation and
not someone who may be driving business
because of a contract or to a relative.”
Forget Your Toothbrush?
Sunscreen? Check. Phone charger? Check.
Toothbrush? Oops. If you find yourself temporarily
without a toothbrush, Dr. Messina says you
can rinse vigorously with water to wash away
some of that cavity-causing bacteria. You could
also put some toothpaste on a clean washcloth
or your clean finger in a pinch. When you
finally get to the nearest drugstore, look for a
toothbrush with the ADA Seal of Acceptance.
If there aren’t any Seal products, buy the softest
brush you can find.
Proper Toothbrush Transport
Letting your toothbrush air dry is how you keep
your toothbrush clean at home, but that’s
not always possible on vacation. What’s a traveling
toothbrush to do? “I’m a big fan of resealable
plastic bags. Keeping your toothbrush clean and
out of contact with other things is more important
that making sure it’s dry on vacation,” Dr. Messina
says. “A bag keeps your toothbrush separate from
everything else in your luggage. When you get there,
pop it open and let your brush air dry.”
Pack an ADA-Approved Pack of Gum
Chewing sugarless gum can help relieve ear
pressure during a flight – and help keep cavities at
bay on vacay. Research shows that chewing sugarless
gum for 20 minutes after a meal can help prevent
cavities. That’s because it gets saliva flowing, which
helps wash away cavity-causing bacteria. Sugarless
gum with the ADA Seal is guaranteed to do the trick.
When In Doubt, Brush with Bottled Water
If you are in a country where the water supply is
compromised – or you’re on a wilderness adventure
but aren’t sure how clean the stream is – always
use bottled water to brush. “Don’t use the local
water to brush your teeth,” Dr. Messina says.
What happens if you accidentally get local water on
your toothbrush? “Get a new one if you can,”
he says. “If that isn’t possible, rinse your brush well
with bottled water to reduce the risk of getting sick.”
Get Back on Track After Your Trip
If you let brushing and flossing slide – or indulged in
too many sweets while away – don’t beat yourself up.
“Just get back on your normal routine of brushing
twice a day for two minutes and flossing when you
get home,” Dr. Messina says.