We’ve all had it—that moment when you realize you are thousands of miles from home and missing a fundamental item. You close your eyes and wonder, “Really? I forgot that? How could I forget that?!” In so many of those cases, the problem is solved by driving to the nearest shopping center. But when thousands of dollars of orthodontic care are at stake, and you have appliances in your mouth that can’t be replaced by a quick trip to the drug store, why not be a little more prepared? Whether you’re wearing a retainer, braces or clear aligners, we have the perfect packing list and set of travel tips for you right here.
- Regular toothbrush plus a travel-size brush to clean up during long trips
- Fluoride toothpaste
- Dental floss
- Floss threaders
- Mouthwash (remember to pack the large bottle in your checked luggage and reserve a travel-size bottle for your carry-on bag)
- Dental wax
- Aligner or retainer case
- New clear aligners if you’ll be changing them
- Small mirror to look at any problems (e.g., broken wires)
- Nail clippers in case you need to clip a wire
- Small water bottle so you’ll always have water available for rinsing
- Over-the-counter pain relief
Tips and Emergency Care
We know, we know: Vacation is a welcome break from the usual routine. But while you’re receiving orthodontic treatment, try not to take a vacation from your normal oral hygiene habits. When you’re far away from your orthodontist’s office, you need to follow the rules regarding sticky, crunchy, chewy foods, and just stay away! Keep brushing three times a day—even if it’s just with water—and keep flossing and rinsing with mouthwash daily.
The chances of a problem occurring are low, but here are some common scenarios and solutions:
- Sensitive Teeth – If you’ve just gotten new braces or a new set of aligners and are now being whisked away on vacation—congratulations! However, your mouth might be a little sensitive. Usually this subsides within a couple days, but while you’re waiting you might consider over-the-counter pain medications to help you focus on your trip rather than the pain. Try sticking to cool, soft foods until the pain subsides and your mouth adjusts.
- Broken or Loose Bracket – This is where you’ll pat yourself on the back for packing the dental wax and clippers. If the bracket is near the front or middle of your mouth, dry the area with a piece of paper towel as best you can and then warm up a small piece of wax between your fingers until it can be places over the bracket. If the broke piece is in the back, you can slip it off carefully. If it leaves a long piece of wire behind, sterilize your nail clippers with alcohol (or hot water if necessary), and carefully clip the excess wire. As soon as possible, call our office and schedule a visit to address the issue once you’re back home!
- Poking Wire – If a poking wire is too short to clip, you might try using the eraser end of a pencil or the back of a small spoon to push it into a more comfortable position. Of course, this is where your dental wax may be handy again, too. Feel free to put some over the wire as your mouth adjusts.
- Irritation – Warm saltwater may be the best (un)kept secret of all dentists and orthodontists. If you find yourself irritated by your appliance and wax is simply not helping, try this soothing remedy: add one teaspoon of table salt to a glass of warm water and stir until it’s dissolved. Swish the water in your mouth for about 30 seconds and then carefully spit it out. Repeat as many times as needed each day. (Always remember to spit!)
With all the right gear packed and information on hand, there’s no reason your orthodontic appliances need to get in the way of an awesome vacation. Remember to give us a call if you have any questions while you’re away—just pay attention to the time zones and be patient if our offices are closed when you call. Have a wonderful trip! (And just think, next time, you’ll probably have a fabulous new smile to bring along, too!)