Many people around the world start off their backpacking adventure around the world with great dental hygiene practices, with healthy teeth and gums. After weeks or months traveling around the world, discovering pristine mountains and waterways, small villages and wonderful views, those same backpackers often come home with teeth and gum issues, and in the need of seeing their local dentist.
How strict you are with your dental hygiene while traveling can mean the difference between either suffering through a week-long backpacking trip in pain and not enjoying your trip at all, or actually enjoying your surroundings and activities and making the most of your travels. And your local dentist would certainly want at least some attention paid to your dental hygiene while planning and experiencing your next backpacking trip.
Get a Check-Up Before Leaving
One of the most important things you can do, and often the most forgotten, is to get a dental checkup before you depart. If you have a regular dentist at home, book in a few weeks before you leave, so that they can check for anything that may cause you an issue when you are away, and they have enough time to complete any work (don’t just go the day before you fly out).
It’s best to get dental treatment before you leave for a number of reasons:
- Cost – you may be able to claim some dental expenses with health insurance at home. Also, if you have a dental emergency abroad or away from home, getting in immediately could cost you extra
- Language – if you can’t speak the language fluently where you are heading to, then how are you going to accurately describe what is going on. Most people don’t like and are scared of going to the dentist when they can communicate, so imagine what it would be like if you can’t
- Quality of work – if you live in a western society, we often take for granted that we will receive top quality work from professionally trained dentists, wherever we go. But this may not be the same case in other places around the world.
- Quality of equipment – just because your local dentist has all the latest equipment in their surgery does not mean that the equipment they use in a small mud-brisk hut in the middle of the Amazon will be the same.
- Availability – there simply may not be any dentists around when you need one. Remember the movie “Castaway”??
However, if you know that you need to get some major dental work done, don’t do it just before you leave. You will need time to heal, and if there are complications or a follow-up visit is required, you may not have time. Plan your dental work ahead.
Things to Remember About Dental Hygiene When Traveling
When you are camping, hiking or enjoying remoteness for an extended period of time, potential threats can ruin your trip. Most threats to dental health are due to a lack of hygiene, and in the outdoors this will come in the form of bacteria; most typically from an unpurified water source.
The need for pure water usually goes without saying, even amongst the most novice adventurers. Keep your water clean through water purification tools and tablets, or through boiling the water before use to kill any lurking bacteria.
Don’t forget your oral health when writing down the to-do check-list of personal hygiene items before you leave. Your dentist will be grateful to find clean, healthy teeth and gums when you return from a stint in the wilderness.
Luckily, in supermarkets you can find almost any item in a convenient travel size. Toothbrushes and toothpaste likewise can be found and purchased in a lightweight size perfect for backpackers to ensure you keep healthy teeth and gums while traveling.
But a toothbrush alone will not accomplish the complete dental hygiene regimen that most backpackers are looking for. To accomplish this, consider bringing a small bottle of mouth wash and dental floss along with you on your trip, to clear bacteria forming on and around the gum line & between teeth.
Don’t Let a Dental Problem Spoil Your Trip
By following these few tips and suggestions, people venturing into remote areas around the world will be able to better enjoy their experience in nature and come home with their dental hygiene in check.