Sometimes it is more of a challenge to stick to our oral health regime when on holiday Be it when we are vacationing abroad or if we decide to have a lazy few weeks at home, by day we excessively indulge on snacks, local cuisines and sweet refreshments as we throw our rule book of self discipline away, and rightly so (to a certain extent)! But by night we get so exhausted from all the fun, all we want to do is to lie in bed, too tired to even lift up the toothbrush. I’m sure many parents who holiday with kids are well aware of what I am talking about, but this applies to a lot of adults too, myself included.
While I’m unable to give you advice on self-discipline, the truth is that the constant intake of snacks throughout the day keeps the acid levels in our mouth high, especially if we have a palate for sweet sticky or starchy food. During the holidays when we don’t have a strict work environment to limit our snacking, the temptation might be hard to resist. Granted, this might not cause tooth-decay overnight but might lead to problems if this goes on for weeks. The solution? Try to keep the starchy carbs and sweet treats limited to meal times as your mouth produces more saliva to help neutralize the acids before it starts attacking your teeth. But when cutting down or limiting ones indulgence during holidays might feel like a cruel and impossible thing to ask, another tip would be to drink lots of water (not juice or fizzy drinks) throughout the day. Not only does it keep you hydrated, but it deals with the acids in the mouth equally well.
But what other dentally-related issues do we have to look out for when we decide to go on vacation during our long break?
Let's start with packing for our trip. Survey shows that toothbrush and toothpaste is one of the most commonly forgotten-to-pack items, closely followed by emergency drugs and painkillers. It’s probably not a big problem if you decide to holiday in a city littered with convenient stores, or sometimes the fancier hotels could provide you with a complimentary toothbrush set if you ask nicely, or else be prepared to be ripped off by shopkeepers in tourist spots just so you can keep your pearly whites nice and smooth, not to mention keeping the dental plaque at bay. Don’t forget to pack some dental floss along and keep them handy for your close-up selfies; no one needs to see the food stuck between your teeth in photos you post on Facebook and Instagram, right?
Speaking of painkillers, they could come in handy because nothing spoils a holiday more than having to deal with a throbbing toothache that wouldn’t go away. Sure, if you are a well prepared traveler, you would have bought travel and medical insurance which should hopefully cover dental emergencies, but in the off chance that you didn’t, the dental bill might add a big unexpected dent into your travel budget. As they say, prevention is always better than cure, so be sure to visit your dentist for a checkup well ahead of time so he or she can spot and prevent potential problems, especially if you are an irregular attendee or had a lot of work done inside your mouth. An untreated cavity could cause sensitivity when you eat cold and sweet food and drinks, and if continually left untreated, could lead to an infected tooth-pulp, which causes the throbbing toothache. So get your dentists to check for loose fillings and any other dental work, and report any niggles and pain you’ve been trying to ignore for the longest time.
Or how about putting up with the embarrassment of having to shy away from the camera or any attention because you have a broken front tooth, crown or denture? Crowns and dentures will deteriorate over time due to many different reasons, like decay or even regular wear-and-tear, and we all may experience things going wrong in the worst possible time one time or another. Let your dentist know early on that you will be going away on holiday so he will be able to point out and repair any potential issues in time, or at least, remind you to not pop open beer bottles or crack open crab shells with your teeth: a mistake a few of my patients have to learn the hard way.
Finally, enjoy your holidays, and don’t forget to smile for the cameras!