Don’t Forget Your Oral Health When You Leave On Vacation!

Posted on May 01, 2018 by William J. Claiborne, DDS MS

Packing for a vacation requires proper preparation. We select clothes appropriate for the weather, may pack sun screen and insect repellent, put a halt on mail delivery, and arrange for our pets to be cared for until our return. These steps help us enjoy a worry free getaway.

Once to our destination, we often indulge more in sweets, alcoholic beverages, rich foods, and colas. After all, we’re on vacation! Ahhh… it’s the time for indulging and savoring ‘rewards’ for getting time off and a respite from our disciplined lives.

While we would never want you to deny yourself of the joys of a well-deserved get-away, we would simply like to remind you to make arrangements to tend to your smile during your off time. By being aware of the hazards to your oral health that often come with vacations, you can take precautions before and during your fun time that won’t compromise your smile. These include:

• Watch what you eat: Vacations are a time when we typically ‘let go’ when it comes to eating. We dive into desserts when we typically would forgo them, we opt for the fried and breaded seafood platter (with plenty of cocktail sauce for dipping!), and we order pancakes for breakfast and saturate them in syrup and butter. Go for it, but keep in mind that every time you eat or drink something (other than water), your mouth experiences an acid attack. This acid flows in with saliva to aid in the digestive process. Beneficial, yes, but it is a strong acid that can literally soften tooth enamel for 20-30 minutes after the last bite or sip. Try to limit snacking during the day and treat yourself to dessert right after mealtime so you don’t trigger a new acid attack (you’ll just prolong one already underway).

• Watch what you drink: As mentioned above, an acid attack occurs in the mouth each time you eat or drink. When you sip a cola or iced tea by the pool over a lengthy period, you prolong the acid’s ability to cause damage. For drinks that are sweet or acidic, such as colas or lemonade, you merely ramp up the acid levels in the mouth. Before you reach for a beverage, consider going for bottled water. (It’s also more hydrating for you overall.)

• Keep your mouth moist: Oral dryness provides a welcoming environment for bacteria in the mouth to thrive and reproduce. By drinking plenty of plain water throughout the day, you’ll aid saliva flow in keeping the mouth flushed of bacterial accumulation. This will also help to combat the drying effects of caffeinated beverages. Also, consider chewing sugarless gum, which will also help to promote saliva flow.

• Stick to a healthy oral hygiene routine: When you arrive to your destination, place your toothbrush, toothpaste, and floss in plain view in the bathroom you’ll use. This way, you’ll be reminded of your healthy smile commitment each time you go in, hopefully prompting regular care.

While we all want to relish that precious time away from work and home, as a Periodontist, I know when a healthy routine is disrupted, it takes only days to create problems, such as early-stage gum disease and the formation of cavities. These can be expensive and time consuming to repair.

Don’t take a vacation from your smile!

Remember – by keeping oral bacteria levels down and limiting oral acids, you can enjoy a brighter smile with fresher breath! Let your vacation be a time when you know your smile’s well-being is a  priority.

If you feel you’ve been less-than-diligent when it comes to your at-home oral care and/or have neglected keeping regular dental check-ups, renew your commitment to a healthy smile. Begin by calling 828-274-9440 to arrange a consultation. During this time, we’ll discuss ways we can help you achieve and maintain a smile you’ll feel confident with, all year long!


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