Tickets? –check. Bags? –check. Toothbrush?
By: Jean Johnson for Dental1
What’s the most important item to bring on vacation? If the American Academy of Periodontology (AAP) has their way, the answer is the toothbrush.
“Most consumers naturally spend more time thinking about which outfits they are going to pack for their vacation than their oral health needs,” said Kenneth Bueltmann, DDS and former president of the AAP. “This is unfortunate because there are several things to take into consideration regarding your oral health, especially if you are traveling abroad.”
|Tips for Oral Hygiene When Traveling|
Take time for yourself even when on the go. The American Academy of Periodontology recommends brushing at least two minutes per session.
Wash your hands before brushing and flossing.
Use bottled water to brush teeth when traveling abroad.
Keep toothbrushes safely two to five feet away from the sink and toilet to avoid contamination.
“I know this must be the case. In the past I’ve been one of those to sort of toss a toothbrush into my cosmetic bag. There’s a zippered net section that keeps it cordoned off from the rest of my toiletries, but I’ve always felt rather ambivalent about my approach,” said Mora Bergstrom of Seattle. “I do have one of those plastic holders, but somehow I’ve gotten away from using that.
“The thought of my toothbrush in there in the dark gives me the heebie-jeebies. I do take it out as much as I can, but if these dental experts have any tips on how to manage a little better, I’m ready to listen.”
Keep Toothbrushes Dry – Clean and Dry
As it turns out, Bergstrom seems to be on the right track with her concerns. The AAP says that 59 percent of the periodontists surveyed “recommend storing toothbrushes in containers with air holes that allow bristles to completely dry, a process that kills oral bacteria.”
This group also recommends that those traveling with children get individual holders that will keep family members’ toothbrushes from touching. And almost across the board, 97 percent of those who responded to the AAP survey recommend cleaning travel containers in which toothbrushes are stored before and after travel.
“I never thought about the cleaning part, but it makes perfect sense,” said Bergstrom. “If I knew it at least started out clean, I’d probably be more inclined to use a toothbrush container – that is once I go out and buy one with air holes. My old one doesn’t have any which is probably part of the reason I quit using it. Too funky!”
Bueltmann agrees that ‘funky’ and good oral hygiene are not compatible. However, he suggests that travelers be mindful of not only the container, but also of the toothbrush itself.
“It is important to disinfect your toothbrush and storage container frequently to kill potentially harmful bacteria that could cause periodontal disease, a serious bacterial infection that destroys the attachment fibers and supporting bone that holds teeth in the mouth,” Bueltmann said. “In addition, allow your toothbrush to dry completely in an open-air environment after each brushing. The bacteria most harmful to the gums are anaerobic, which means they will die if exposed to oxygen.”
Finally, the AAP reminds travelers that any activity out of the ordinary, no matter how pleasurable, can produce stress – and that stress is associated with periodontitis or gum disease. Consequently, when vacationing it is all the more important that we take time to brush two minutes after meals and floss once a day to remove plaque that will otherwise harden.
More, taking as much care around the gum lines as we do when we are at home, states the AAP, hedges our bets against joining the approximately 15 percent of adults in the United States under 50 years of age and the 30 percent over 50 who have periodontal disease. We will save ourselves from time and trouble in the dentist office.