With the Christmas holidays coming up, many Aussies are looking forward to getting away from it all.
While you might be excited about taking a break from work and other responsibilities, there are some things in life that never have time off. That includes looking after your teeth!
Whether you're travelling overseas or staying in Australia, read these dental travel tips to avoid common mistakes and improve the chances that you and your family will enjoy your holidays without problems.
Keep up your daily hygiene routine
Brushing your teeth twice every day is recommended by dentists to help keep your teeth and gums free from plaque and related problems such as tooth decay, cavities and gum disease. You should brush for about two minutes each time, using a fluoride toothpaste.
A toothbrush and toothpaste are essential items to pack for your trip, but if you forget, you should be able to pick these up easily from stores when you arrive at your destination. If stores are closed and you find yourself without a toothbrush, you can rub toothpaste onto your teeth using your finger or a clean wash cloth. Even cleaning your teeth with water is better than going without.
As well as brushing, it's also recommended that you floss once a day as part of a good oral hygiene routine. This helps to remove trapped food and plaque from parts of your mouth that your toothbrush might not reach.
Use bottled water to be safe
Drinking plenty of water throughout the day is always recommended, especially if you're in a hot climate or using lots of energy, as this increases the risk of dehydration. However, not all countries have tap water that's as safe to drink as the water back home.
If you think the local water supply isn't safe to drink, you should drink bottled water and also use this to brush your teeth. As bottled water usually lacks the fluoride you may be used to in tap water, you might consider adding a mouthwash to your oral hygiene routine to help protect your teeth.
Watch what you eat and drink
Trying new experiences is an important part of travel for many people, but you should keep your teeth in mind and try to avoid food and drink that may be high in decay-causing sugar or acid, or food that's so hard it could damage your teeth.
Other foods may also put your teeth at risk if they cause sickness or a diet-related disease. Vomiting can weaken teeth enamel and make teeth easier to damage, so that's another good reason to avoid travel sickness as much as possible.
Chew sugar-free gum
Sugar-free gum stimulates saliva production, which helps to rinse your mouth and reduce bacteria. Chewing gum after a meal can help to reduce acid attacks that can affect the teeth.
If you sometimes feel pressure in your ears or sinuses during a flight, chewing gum during take-off could help to relieve this pressure to some extent.
Don't be tempted by cheap dental treatments
If you need a dental treatment, you might be tempted to wait until your holiday to see if it can be done cheaper abroad. While prices may be lower, there can also be greater risks involved when having dental treatments abroad. This is because dentists or clinics may not be suitably qualified and there may be a higher risk of complications and needing corrective treatments when you get back home.
Health authorities such as the Australian Dental Association (ADA) discourage Aussies from seeking cheap treatments overseas, especially for more complex procedures such as dental implants where more things can go wrong.
Don't miss your dental appointment
Make sure your teeth and gums are as healthy as possible for your trip by visiting your dentist before you set off.
 Healthdirect. Teeth cleaning [Online] 2018 [Accessed November 2018] Available from: https://www.healthdirect.gov.au/teeth-cleaning
 American Dental Association. 8 Travel Tips for Your Teeth [Online] 2016 [Accessed November 2018] Available from: https://www.mouthhealthy.org/en/travel-tips
 Australian Dental Association. Diet and Nutrition [Online] 2017 [Accessed November 2018] Available from: https://www.ada.org.au/Dental-Health-Week/Oral-Health-for-Busy-Lives/Diet-and-Nutrition
 Australian Dental Association. Dental Tourism [Online] 2016 [Accessed November 2018] Available from: https://www.ada.org.au/Your-Dental-Health/Younger-Adults-18-30/Dental-Tourism