When the team at Bitesize isn’t busy offering up Brooklyn dental treatment for kids, we love traveling and going on adventures. In the process, we’ve picked up some great tips for maintaining excellent oral hygiene on the road (or in the sky). With spring break season in full swing, we know a lot of our patients will be heading out into the world and we love the idea of them exploring and expanding their horizons. However, as awesome as vacations are, the changes in daily routines can cause things like brushing and flossing to take a back seat. Well, Bitesize Pediatric Dentistry has you covered with our helpful tips for keeping your kids’ teeth healthy while traveling:
1. Put Together a Travel Dental Kit
Having a travel dental kit on hand eliminates a whole lot of excuses because you can pack all of your child’s oral hygiene essentials and favorites and they’ll have access to them even if you’re in a more remote area like a campsite. We recommend putting a travel toothbrush, your kiddo’s preferred flavor of fluoride toothpaste, dental floss and mouthwash in a toiletry bag and stashing it somewhere easy to reach in the car or in your carry-on bag (you will need travel-sized products if you’re bringing it on the plane to abide by the TSA liquids rule). Even though you can purchase the items you’ll need if you forget something at most destinations, a travel dental kit is more convenient especially after a long day of traveling with kids. It will help you resist the urge to let the flossing slide for a night or two. If you’re going somewhere where the water isn’t safe to drink, you might also want to include bottled water or a travel water purifier to use when brushing teeth since kids are likely to swallow some of the water.
2. Pack Healthy Snacks
Hey, we’d never suggest forgoing local delicacies and delicious treats while you’re traveling with kids. Yet, when it comes to sugary delights or things that tend to linger on or in between the teeth (we’re looking at you, raisins), moderation is key. When kids – and grown-ups – eat food and don’t brush in a timely manner or food debris gets trapped in their pearly whites, the bacteria in their mouth feed on the carbohydrates and sugars. When this happens, a reaction occurs and they produce acids that weaken the tooth enamel, eventually leading to cavities.
To combat this, when kids do eat sweets, have them brush their teeth after or at least rinse and then brush when they’re able to. Balance the sweets with healthier options throughout the day. While you’re in the car or on the plane, bring along tooth-friendly, healthy snacks like carrot sticks and raw apple slices, which are nature’s toothbrushes and scrape away plaque as children eat them. For beverages, opt for water instead of soft drinks. Water doesn’t contain any sugar or starches and it will wash away plaque and bits of food.
3. Embrace Saliva!
Spit has gotten a bad rap but saliva is actually a real superhero when it comes to banishing the sugar bugs and keeping kids’ teeth healthy and strong. Saliva plays a few key roles in our oral health, including diluting sugars after we eat or drink, cleansing the teeth and gums, neutralizing the acids from plaque and encouraging the remineralization of the tooth’s enamel. Talk about doing the heavy lifting! Any list of keeping good dental habits while traveling would be remiss not to mention the importance of stimulating saliva. While you’re in transit and your little one can’t get to a toothbrush, sipping on water and rinsing with water when possible will help get the spit going and keep the teeth clean. For older kids, chewing on sugarless gum or sucking on sugarless hard candy between snacks and meals, especially if it has xylitol in it, is thought to encourage saliva production and zap sugar bugs.
4. Brush When You Stop
Keeping kids’ teeth healthy while traveling can be as simple as taking advantage of all of those bathroom breaks. If, say, you’re doing a ton of driving, have kids bring their travel dental kit with them during pit stops. That way, they can quickly brush, even if it’s just with water, and dislodge food that’s stuck in their teeth and freshen up their mouth.
5. Prioritize Their Oral Hygiene Routine Before Turning in for the Night
It’s hard not to let your children just head straight for bed after spending all day getting to your destination or sightseeing. However, their smile will thank you if you make it a rule that they brush and floss their teeth really well before going to sleep. For young kids, you’ll want to supervise their efforts. Maintaining their nighttime oral hygiene routine will really help to keep things on track.
There you have it, our tips for keeping kids’ teeth healthy while traveling. If you really want to start your vacation off with sparkling smiles, schedule a visit with our Williamsburg and Park Slope pediatric dentists before you go for a checkup and cleaning. Happy travels!