Summer vacation in 2020 is going to look a lot different; that is no secret now. Many of us are cancelling our plans to fly this year due to COVID-19, and the idea of a road trip is becoming more popular. Of course you should only embark on a road trip if you’re sure one your destination is in good condition to handle visitors, and two you can still responsibly social distance when you arrive there. If you can check these two boxes, then perhaps the open road is the site of your next family vacation. Yet with virus contamination worries at the forefront of our minds, it can be hard to keep up with oral hygiene, especially if you’re hitting rest stops along the way. Here are some tips for dental care on a summer road trip.
It used to be a widely circulated tip that you could stop off at a rest stop or public bathroom to freshen your breath and brush your teeth. However, now brushing in a public bathroom during a pandemic is probably not a good idea. It is a challenge to keep your hands clean after touching shared surfaces, and you don’t want to bring the extra hazard of brushing your teeth into the mix. Flossing is even worse since the floss is touching your hands and then going into your mouth repeatedly. A quick rinse of mouthwash will freshen up your breath, but it is no substitute for flossing and brushing. So as you plan your road trip, be sure to take into account alternatives to brushing in public bathrooms.
A clean, sanitized hotel room is a great place to brush your teeth while you’re traveling. Make sure to brush twice a day and floss once a day while you have access to these amenities. You don’t need a hotel room to brush your teeth though. Stopping off at a parking lot provides an opportunity to use a bottle of water to get the brushing job done. Simply wet the brush and toothpaste with a little water from the bottle, brush and spit as you normally would, and rinse with a couple sips from the bottle. If you’re camping, spitting toothpaste at the campsite is generally accepted, but make sure you spit so it spreads out over a wide area. Leaving glops of toothpaste on the ground can harm certain vegetation. However when you’re around others, spitting is a bad idea as it can potentially increase the spread of the virus. If spitting isn’t an option, you can always use a can or other container you’ll later throw away. Don’t be afraid to get creative to keep your oral hygiene up.
If you’re going to be in the car for hours on end, then you need to make conscious choices about your snacks and beverages. Downing a soda and leaving the acids on your teeth as the hours and miles pass can be very hard on your enamel. You should also be cautious eating snacks sugary or rich in carbs as they can stick to your teeth and harm the enamel as well. Fruits, nuts and veggies make better road trip snacks, and they’re healthier than the normal junk food we’re used to on longer trips. You can always pack a cooler to keep these items from spoiling in the summer temperatures. Even if you do decide to indulge in a sugary beverage or snack, make sure to pack plenty of water. A good rinse with water after eating these items helps wash away the acids so your enamel stays strong.
If you’re on the road and away from your family dentist, the event of a dental emergency can be especially trying during the pandemic. Stay calm and search your phone for nearby dentists. It might not be a bad idea to check their online rating really quick if you have time. Then you’ll want to reach out and see if the office has any emergency appointments reserved. At this time, dentists are operating at a reduced capacity for added cleaning and social distancing. This means generally they have less slots available, and you may have to call around. If no dentists are available, then you can check with local urgent care clinics. Be sure to ask about their new safety practices before you arrive so you can adhere to those measures and keep the staff and other patients safe.
Many of us have put off regular tasks like haircuts and dental checkups during the pandemic. However, now that businesses are back open, new safety measures are ensuring you can feel safe and get the care you need. (Learn more about the measures were taking to keep our office safe and clean). It’s a great idea to stop in a checkup before you head out on that long road trip. But don’t wait! Dentists are experiencing a backlog of patients, and you may have to wait a while before you can get into the office. Contact us to get started, get your checkup, and then hit the road for some much needed rest and relaxation this summer!