Healthy Smiles: Summer Vacation Tips

Healthy Smiles by Rita Tempel, DDS – This article was originally published in The Gettysburg Times, July 19, 2017

Summertime schedules can be crazy—I know first-hand! The calendar fills up quickly, between vacation plans, picnics, and fun activities. But medical appointments also take priority, especially for families who prefer their children not miss school days or school sports. In this column, I’d like to pass along some dental tips for summertime.

  • Make summer dental appointments early. Summer unfortunately goes by all too quickly! I encourage parents to make appointments for their children as soon as possible before summer appointments are booked and the new school year has begun.
  • Dental issues on vacation? Make sure your dentist’s phone number is programmed into your cell phone, or keep his/her business card in your wallet for emergencies. Many dental emergencies can be resolved over the phone, especially if you have kept regular 6-month checkups with your dentist. Calling your dentist can help you determine whether your issue is something that can wait until you arrive home, or needs to be treated immediately.
  • How to properly pack your toothbrush. At home, your toothbrush has the chance to air dry between uses. When traveling, it’s important to keep your toothbrush separate and clean, so use a toothbrush holder or resealable plastic bag. In between uses, leave the holder or bag open so your toothbrush can dry.
  • Stay on track. One of the main purposes of going on vacation is to escape the “daily grind.” While your schedule may be relaxing, it’s important to continue your dental hygiene routine and not become lax. We often consume indulgent treats or drinks on vacation, so don’t let your guard down on brushing and flossing.
  • Take flight with sugarless gum. When you’re flying, ear pressure is relieved by chewing, so gum is a great choice. Sugarless gum or xylitol gum make great choices!
  • Beat the heat with water. Whether you’re at the beach, in the mountains, or by a lake—remember that water is the best beverage of choice for many reasons. From a dental perspective, sugary drinks such as soda, sports drinks, lemonade, etc. are okay once in a while, but when consumed regularly, can lead to cavities.
  • Can’t drink the water? Let’s say you’re headed to an exotic locale, or you’re embarking on a wilderness trek, where the water source is compromised. In those cases, always use bottled water to brush your teeth.
  • Prevention is the key to avoiding catastrophe. Many dental emergencies, whether experienced at home or on vacation, can be prevented by maintaining a regular schedule of dental visits every six months. Be sure to stay up-to-date on all of your medical appointments, so that you can maximize the enjoyment of your hard-earned vacation time!

Dr. Rita Tempel is the owner and founder of Gettysburg Smiles, a cosmetic and family dental practice located at 2018 York Road (Route 30 East), Gettysburg. She is a Sustaining Member of the American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry. For more information, see GettysburgSmiles.com, follow Gettysburg Smiles on Facebook, or call 717-339-0033.

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