Vacations were made for smiles

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By Dr. Stephanie McGannDMD FAGD, Columnist, The Times

School is out and the shore traffic tells us all that vacation season is in full swing.  We all need a vacation and for most of us we cherish those well-deserved days away from the daily grind of work and chores.

Before you pack your bags, be sure your dental visits are up to date. Fixing a small concern before you go may prevent a toothache from popping up while sipping that frozen concoction in the sand.  Be sure to pack your regular oral health products. Don’t pick vacation to try a new whitening toothpaste or mouth rinse. Sometimes switching to a different product can cause some sensitivity or even irritate the gums or cheeks. Be sure to pack your floss, we all eat differently on vacation and may need a little extra oral hygiene to keep things clean and healthy.

Vacation is a time where we sometimes don’t have all the comforts of home. Do not be tempted to open a package or rip off a tag with your teeth.  Teeth are not designed to be used in place of scissors or a bottle opener. Yes, this sounds obvious, but every dentist has seen the damage caused when teeth are misused in this way.

Avoid the curse of salt water taffy. This sticky candy is notorious for ripping apart fillings and pulling apart dental work. If you must, be sure it’s soft and try not to chew it.

Sometimes things happen anyway. If a crown (cap) comes off while you are away clean it out and see if it can be easily replaced with denture adhesive or chewed sugarless gum.  If it cannot be easily replaced, leave it off and call your dentist.  If the tooth is sensitive to hot and or cold, protect it and see a dentist as soon as reasonably possible. If a tooth starts to hurt on vacation clean the area with warm salt water, floss to remove any debris.  Use over the counter pain meds, anti-inflammatories such as Advil, if you are able to take them, and call your dentist. Swelling, fever and excruciating pain are true dental emergencies and should be seen by a local dentist or urgent care facility.

The most important thing is to enjoy your vacation without pain.  So, take care of yourself, enjoy your vacation and most of all SMILE!

Dr. Stephanie McGann, who has more than two decades of dental practice experience, is a resident of the Unionville area and along with her partner, Dr. Marie Scott, practice at The Brandywine Smile Center, a family-friendly dental practice in Concordville. Dr. McGann also owns a practice in Valley Township, Rainbow Valley Dental. She is a past President of the Chester/Delaware Dental Society and she is a Fellow of the Academy of General Dentistry.

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